Chance the Rapper

Chance the Rapper performed for an enthusiastic, sold-out crowd at the CenturyLink Center on Wednesday.

Big, bright and bold, Chance the Rapper’s music is inviting.

It’s almost like it’s calling out: “Come on in. Let’s do this. Everyone is welcome. We’ll lift each other up if we stick together.”

That’s how the Chicago rapper’s show-stopping performance felt at Wednesday night’s sold-out show at the CenturyLink Center.

For his part, Chance wanted it that way. He continually asked the crowd to join him on his “path.”

“I’m here to remind you that you got it,” he said. “Omaha, tonight we’re going to walk on a path.”

The journey was lit by his bright, gospel-tinged hip-hop album “Coloring Book.” It’s an innovative album full of bright soundscapes, children’s choirs and hip-hop from the heart.

It’s an album about troubles, to be sure, but also about the solace Chance finds in God and family.

Backed by a trio of musicians and a quartet of gorgeous vocalists rather than a DJ queuing tracks, Chance brought the stage alive by rapping about how music and Jesus are all we have (“All We Got”), thankfulness in the face of tribulations (“Blessings”) and how seeing his girl is the best part of the week (“Sunday Candy”).

Throughout the 90-minute show, Chance was giddy like a new childhood friend enthusiastic to become best pals. He took the audience’s hand and ran, eager to show off all his toys.

He laughed with the crowd. He told them (and his road crew) how loud they were being. He pointed out individual fans and asked them to sing louder.

He was like a ringleader. He put his hands up, and the crowd put their hands up. He started dancing and bouncing across the stage, and the crowd started moving with him. He sang the melody to “Sunday Candy,” and the crowd was right there with him.

And it was a big crowd: 14,000 strong. Many of them were teens and 20-somethings singing every word, filming one another dancing or waving their snapback hats emblazoned with Chance’s trademark “3.”

Wednesday’s show was sold out, an impressive feat for an artist that hasn’t technically released an album. Up until now, Chance the Rapper’s efforts have been streaming-only, self-released mixtapes.

(While performing the major-label-bashing “No Problem,” mock logos of labels flashed on a screen behind him, including one for “Phony” and another for “Weiner Music Group.”) 

Despite releasing “Coloring Book” with little fanfare, Chance took home three Grammy Awards, including best rap album and best new artist.

“Coloring Book” hit No. 8 on Billboard’s albums chart without selling any physical copies. It’s an incredible record. (It was on my top 10 albums list from last year. I love it.)

In addition to most of “Coloring Book,” Chance did his version of Kanye West’s “Waves,” “Smoke Again” from his “Acid Rap” album and his verse from DJ Khaled’s “I’m the One.”

And the audience stuck with him through it all to the point where he apologized for talking so much and pushing the show past it’s mandated curfew.

But he played on, finishing out “Summer Friends” and pushing through a second play of “Blessings,” beckoning his fans to raise their hands up.

In a burst of bright light, confetti and pyrotechnics, it was over.

“Damn, that was a good show,” Chance said with a very big smile on his face.

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Reporter - Entertainment/music/concert

Kevin Coffey is the entertainment editor and critic, covering music, movies, video games, comic books and lots more. Follow him on Twitter @owhmusicguy. Phone: 402-444-1557.

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