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The Best and Worst of Chance’s Magnificent Coloring Day Festival

The Chatham rapper’s fest made history at U.S. Cellular Field this weekend.

Chance and the ballpark won; no one really lost.   Photos: Cousin Daniel

Chance the Rapper’s Magnificent Coloring Day swung through U.S. Cellular Field this weekend, and the event was, well, pretty magnificent. The one-day festival, which packed more than 47,000 fans into the ballpark, punctuates a marquee year for the Chatham rapper, whose third mixtape Coloring Book captivated critics and broke records this spring. The best and worst of the festival, below.

The Best

Kanye, Common, Hannibal, and all the other cameos

If you hadn’t heard, Chance loves surprises—and he went above and beyond at his flagship festival. Among the day’s shockers were appearances by Common (performing “Glory” with John Legend), a mini-set by comedian Hannibal Buress, Bulls star Jimmy Butler (draped in a Jonathan Toews Blackhawks jersey with rappers Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz), and a 20-minute set by Kanye West, capped with a stirring rendition of “Ultralight Beam” with Chance—arguably the festival’s most touching moment.

2 Chainz, left, and Lil Wayne

Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz’s tag-teamed set

On paper, the Atlanta rappers’ combined set as Collegrove seemed strange; the pair have only worked together on one album under that name, and each artist’s best work lives elsewhere. In practice, though, the double bill helped pace the rappers’ 70-minute set, which was split three ways (and about every three songs) between Lil Wayne solo, 2 Chainz solo, and Collegrove.

The Cell as a venue in general 

For a ballpark that hasn’t hosted a show in 13 years, U.S. Cellular Field boasted the makings of a primo concert venue: solid audio, plentiful Jumbrotrons, more bathrooms than Wrigley, and easy to access from both the North and South sides via the Sox-35th Red Line stop. Better yet, throwing Coloring Day in a venue built for 40,000 butts meant nobody’s public neighborhood park got trashed—an increasing problem with mega-fests like Lolla, Riot Fest, and North Coast.

Magnificent merch

Chance & co. nodded liberally to the fest’s ballpark locale, slinging Sox-centric gear at merch tables throughout the concourse. Highlights included baseball-style T-shirts, a swanky MCD jersey (number 16, of course), and a smattering of those hard-to-find White Sox snapbacks that Chance designed back in April.

No jerks

Though it catered to the same demographic as Lolla and occupied a fraction of the space, Coloring Day lacked the party-animal faction that’s come to dominate Chicago festivals. Gold star.

The Worst

Where’s the gang?

The apparent trade-off for Chance hosting so many guests throughout the day was none during his actual set—normally a staple of the rapper’s communal live performances. Notably absent from their respective Chance songs—possibly to avoid a technical nightmare—were Jamila Woods, Vic Mensa, Eryn Allen Kane, Noname Gypsy, Mick Jenkins, Alex Wiley, Saba, Kanye, Lil Wayne, and 2 Chainz, whose verses were either skipped, played over the backtrack, or performed by a cast of stuffed puppets. Credit where it’s due, though, for bringing out the Chicago Children’s Choir.

Alicia Keys

Fluctuating pace

It may have just been post-Kanye fatigue, but John Legend’s laid-back set seemed slightly out of place after bangers by Lil Uzi Vert and Tyler, the Creator. You could say the same for Alicia Keys—Hannibal Buress noted that between her and Lil Uzi, Chance had essentially flipped the festival on shuffle—had the singer not packed such an anthemic punch in her 40 minutes on stage.

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