Chance the Rapper led a crowd of thousands from his Grant Park party to the polls | Bleader

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Chance the Rapper led a crowd of thousands from his Grant Park party to the polls

Posted By on 11.08.16 at 04:08 PM

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click to enlarge Chance the Rapper performed a short set before leading the Grant Park crowd to an early-voting location. - DANIELLE A. SCRUGGS
  • Danielle A. Scruggs
  • Chance the Rapper performed a short set before leading the Grant Park crowd to an early-voting location.

It's a strangely beautiful feeling to be marching to an early-voting location through the evening streets of downtown Chicago with Chance the Rapper as grand marshal and thousands of millennials in tow.

The crowd intermittently chanted lyrics to Chance's urban radio chart-topper "No Problem" or aggressively shouted "Fuck Donald Trump!" Some onlookers took pictures from office windows, while others waved in solidarity or jumped into the parade.

The organizers at local nonprofit Chicago Votes did most of the legwork for Monday's Parade to the Polls, but adding a socially conscious superstar like Chance to the mix amplified the group's reach enormously, sending turnout through the roof—though a good chunk of the crowd was too young to vote.

It also showed the strength of millennials as a group, despite older generations' lack of faith in young people's ability as leaders and voters. "There's so much power in you," Chance said during his four-song set before the parade—and the 23-year-old might as well have been talking about himself too. After cruising through the Coloring Book tracks "Angels," "Blessings," and "No Problem," the south-sider encouraged everyone to use voting in this election as a way to "customize and create the way your society works."

"Y'all voting on the future right now," he added.

click to enlarge The man of the hour - DANIELLE A. SCRUGGS
  • Danielle A. Scruggs
  • The man of the hour

The Parade to the Polls event changed venues at the last minute "due to capacity," the rapper explained on Twitter. The original location outside the Virgin Hotel on Lake and Wabash couldn't accommodate the number of people who'd RSVPed before showtime—organizers had planned on only about 700 people. On Windy City Live, Chance appeared with his father, Ken Bennett, and his little brother, Taylor Bennett, to announce that the pre-parade concert had been moved to Petrillo Music Shell in Grant Park.

click to enlarge Eryn Allen Kane - DANIELLE A. SCRUGGS
  • Danielle A. Scruggs
  • Eryn Allen Kane

click to enlarge The front rows during Eryn Allen Kane's performance - DANIELLE A. SCRUGGS
  • Danielle A. Scruggs
  • The front rows during Eryn Allen Kane's performance

Eryn Allen Kane kicked off the show, singing "Bass Song" from her debut EP, Aviary: Act I. She followed it with upbeat covers of Justin Timberlake's "Señorita," the Jacksons' "Shake Your Body," and the Isley Brothers' "Shout." Twin Peaks walked out to much applause, and their brief set got a small mosh pit started in the middle of the crowd—volunteers did their best to keep fans from knocking down the barriers in front of the stage.

click to enlarge Much of the audience vocally approved of the "Fuck Donald" shirt worn by Twin Peaks bassist Jack Dolan. - DANIELLE A. SCRUGGS
  • Danielle A. Scruggs
  • Much of the audience vocally approved of the "Fuck Donald" shirt worn by Twin Peaks bassist Jack Dolan.

click to enlarge Volunteers work to keep the crowd-control barriers from succumbing to the enthusiasm of Twin Peaks' fans. - DANIELLE A. SCRUGGS
  • Danielle A. Scruggs
  • Volunteers work to keep the crowd-control barriers from succumbing to the enthusiasm of Twin Peaks' fans.

OddCouple DJed throughout, playing favorites like Chance's "Juke Jam" and Kanye West's "Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1." In Chicago style, the audience recited the lyrics to every song. After Taylor Bennett performed, local activist-turned-rapper Malcolm London came on. "Last year, I almost got killed," he said by way of introduction—referring to his scuffle with Chicago police during the Laquan McDonald protests in 2015.

click to enlarge Taylor Bennett - DANIELLE A. SCRUGGS
  • Danielle A. Scruggs
  • Taylor Bennett

At about 5:20 PM, the Social Experiment's Peter Cottontale jumped onstage to welcome his buddy Chance. "We came out tonight to stay woke and vote," he said.

During his set, Chance made sure to remind the crowd that this was a nonpartisan event. He also made sure to acknowledge all the kiddies in attendance. "I know some of y'all niggas are not 18," he joked—and he asked everyone not old enough to cast a ballot to stay out of the parade, in hopes of keeping the size of the crowd under control. Organizers hadn't secured permits to block the street, so Chance asked everyone to stick to the sidewalks—which worked about as well as you'd expect.

click to enlarge Chance in the thick of the march, with a security staffer who appears to have spotted the photographer - DANIELLE A. SCRUGGS
  • Danielle A. Scruggs
  • Chance in the thick of the march, with a security staffer who appears to have spotted the photographer

click to enlarge Outside the Board of Elections building: Chance the Rapper fan art in progress - DANIELLE A. SCRUGGS
  • Danielle A. Scruggs
  • Outside the Board of Elections building: Chance the Rapper fan art in progress

Marchers spilled into the streets as they followed Chance to the early-voting location on Washington, where they joined the already long lines—and where the star of the show voted as well.

To borrow words Chance had spoken from the stage: "I'm here to make sure that everybody stay woke and vote."

click to enlarge The Grant Park rally heads east into downtown. - DANIELLE A. SCRUGGS
  • Danielle A. Scruggs
  • The Grant Park rally heads east into downtown.

click to enlarge By the time the parade crossed Dearborn, it had spread out enough to fit onto the sidewalk. - DANIELLE A. SCRUGGS
  • Danielle A. Scruggs
  • By the time the parade crossed Dearborn, it had spread out enough to fit onto the sidewalk.

click to enlarge Trump supporters along the parade route - DANIELLE A. SCRUGGS
  • Danielle A. Scruggs
  • Trump supporters along the parade route

click to enlarge A self-evident but still welcome sign - DANIELLE A. SCRUGGS
  • Danielle A. Scruggs
  • A self-evident but still welcome sign

click to enlarge The crowd in Grant Park at dusk - DANIELLE A. SCRUGGS
  • Danielle A. Scruggs
  • The crowd in Grant Park at dusk

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