Live Review: Noname at Lincoln Hall December 29-31
For the last three nights of 2017, Chicago rapper Noname transformed Lincoln Hall into her own personal living room, greeting fans and cracking jokes from the balcony as part of her Coming Home concert series. Each night of the sold-out event was its own unique experience, featuring different surprise guests that were introduced like family before a nearly glowing Noname took the stage every time with the charm and charisma of a Chicago homecoming queen.
To stir up the weekend’s house party vibes, DJ Squeak Pivot spun a juke-inducing mix of rap and R&B from the balcony, casually interacting with the crowd and hyping up the surprises to come. Comedian Teddy Ray opened up Saturday night’s show followed by a set from Smino, while the New Year’s Eve show featured comedians Jak Knight (writer for Big Mouth), Quinta Brunson of Buzzfeed, and Chicago rapper Qari.
Not surprisingly, Noname’s performance radiated triumph. The series felt like a three-day afterparty capping a career-launching year. After all, 2017 was huge for Noname, with both an NPR Tiny Desk Concert and a national tour checked off her list of accomplishments (and prior to that, touring with Miss Lauryn Hill herself). She channeled the crowd with a magnetic energy and power that reflects her growth as an emcee, delivering kinetic numbers backed by a full band and string quartet with the devoted audience following along to every word.
The strength in her performance could be found in its range and nuance, as she quieted all of Lincoln Hall prior to the sobering opening lines of “Casket Pretty.” During the final show, Saba and Smino made appearances for their verses on “Shadow Man,” a song about peace for lost ones, in what was perhaps the most powerful moment of the entire series.
Following a tumultous 2017, the three young up-and-coming artists danced victoriously and shared the well-deserved spotlight with one another as they rapped about loss and love, where they’ve come from, and where they’re going. Coming Home was truly a home away from home after an insane year, offering a much needed refuge of hopeful celebration in Chicago.
BY JULIET CANGELOSI