On Monday, October, 19th, I was fortunate enough to attend Chance the Rapper's Family Matters Tour in Toronto at the Sound Academy. The whole opportunity was serendipitous for me because I had been planning to visit Toronto since the start of the Summer on some kind of graduation-present-to-myself-type-of-thing. I didn't even know about the show until it was pointed out to me, so I sort of based my trip around it. My friend and I arrived at Sound Academy just after 8PM (doors opened at 7PM) in hopes of avoiding a long line, but unsurprisingly, our plan failed miserably. Neither of us had ever been to Sound Academy, so how were we to know? The venue actually states that it: "easily accommodates up to 2,600 people with a clear view to the stage." Seeing how the show was sold-out, I'd say the wait was understandable and after 30-40 minutes — oh, and the most violently sexual pat-down we've ever experienced — we got in.
Before seeing the show, if I had to rank my fandom towards the artists on tour it would list as follows: (1) Chance the Rapper and The Social Experiment (Donnie Trumpet, Peter CottonTale and Nate Fox), (2) Towkio, (3) D.R.A.M., and (4) Metro Boomin'. We arrived just in time to catch the conclusion of Towkio's set which was unabashedly energetic. We watched from the back of the sea of onlookers because we had just walked in and pointlessly bought a few very expensive drinks. Towkio ended his set with "Reflection," "I Know You," "Heaven Only Knows" sans Chance, and something unreleased. However, despite being a part of the SAVEMONEY collective (which houses de facto leader, Vic Mensa, and associates with Chance the Rapper and The Social Experiment), many of those in attendance seemed to be unfamiliar with his music. Although, that's unsurprising and usually indicative of the opening act anyway. Regardlessly, he put on a worthwhile performance from what I saw and had portions of the crowd rocking with him.
Next was D.R.A.M. and his set was quite possibly the second best part of the show. He interacted with the crowd constantly in the short amount of time that he had, and he seemed to be genuinely enjoying himself on stage. Similar to Towkio, the crowd (myself included) was slightly unfamiliar with the majority of D.R.A.M.'s music. He began with a couple of songs I can't even remember, transitioned into The Social Experiment's "Caretaker" off of Surf while simultaneously proving to me that he can sing quite well, and then debuted "$" featuring Donnie Trumpet off his upcoming EP, Gahdamn!, but once the original "Cha Cha" came on: everybody knew what was happening. After hearing this song grow over the course of the last year or so, it was exciting to experience it live with a crowd who, at the very least, knew this one. I don't think I can overemphasize D.R.A.M.'s energy level either. Listening to the recordings of his songs don't do them justice and the difference in quality when I heard them live shocked me. His energy level was contagious. It didn't even matter if you knew his music or not. He had the people going.
Shift to Metro Boomin. I know people know who this guy is, but to have a producer/DJ be the third act before Chance, Donnie, Peter, and Nate came out surprised the hell out of me. It was cool, I guess, like, I really did enjoy his set. He was running around, shouting on a mic, transitioning into big turnt up songs like "Know Yourself," playing hits from Drake and Future's What a Time to be Alive (which he executively produced), and other trap bangers, but seriously, he was the third act of the show? He should have been the first opener and then Towkio and D.R.A.M. should have followed him. More importantly, he played "Hotline Bling" after D.R.A.M. was just on, and really provided the most interesting part of the show as D.R.A.M. vented about it on Twitter the very next day. What a shot to the heart considering that "Hotline Bling" is some weird Drake doppelgänger of D.R.A.M.'s "Cha Cha."Dead serious, here's a snapchat I obliviously took of the crowd's respective reactions to each song:
Meh. Maybe it's not the greatest comparison of all time but the point is: Drake owes D.R.A.M. some props. Plus, Drake released the "Hotline Bling" video on the same day as this show.
After Metro, Chance and The Social Experiment hit the stage and it proceeded to get pretty live all around me. The crowd finally responded to something consistently. Up until this moment, I had people literally standing around me when Towkio played his best known songs; when D.R.A.M. tried to force people into enjoying themselves; and even when Metro Boomin' played songs like "Jumpman" and "Big Rings". It was clear who everyone was there to see, but even later, when Chance was going through his set with songs like "Tap Dance," "Home Studio," "Pusha Man," "Favorite Song," and more, some people were just standing around. I had expected the place to explode once Chance got on the stage, but it never really happened (with the exception of a few songs here and there). As a diehard fan, objectively: Chance's set list was a little all over the place. They performed songs from #10Day , Acid Rap and Surf but also a handful of loosies you can find on his Soundcloud. He even opened with the recently visualized, "Family Matters":
Nevertheless, the show was excellent; the musicality of it all was more than I could have ever hoped for, and Donnie Trumpet was killer ("Rememory" was a highlight); but STILL, people all around me were just standing during the climax of the evening. What was happening? Then it occurred to me that Sound Academy was a poor venue for this type show and perhaps even the level of stardom Chance has attained. Earlier in the night, I had consciously given up on being able to see the stage clearly from my back-of-the-crowd-position. I managed to jostle around just enough to see the stage for moments at a time while jumping and rapping-along. Then I realized that if this is how things were for me, then it must be the same for everybody around me. Remember how Sound Academy said that 2,600 people could fit comfortably inside? Yeah, that's really not true. Therefore, Sound Academy inherently sucks. The show was good but could have been better if it facilitated the number of people attending. The tour itself should have definitely been somewhere else where fans could actually enjoy the music and see what was happening. It was bittersweet experience, for sure.
I finally had the opportunity to see Chance the Rapper live but I left with a feeling of anticipation. I can't wait for my next opportunity to see him again in hopes of experiencing a better show venue-wise. Where the people around me can enjoy themselves and the entire vibe is elevated. Personally, I didn't mind too much, but as an overall experience, this is what happened.
To put it into perspective, how much fun can you have when the people around you are not having fun?