Road trip to Chicago to see Alex Wiley

Mason Schweizer, Staff Writer

Between the Donald Trump rally-turned-protest and the seemingly endless St. Patrick’s Day parties, there were scores of worthwhile events all over Chicago this past weekend.


But for me, there was one event at Concord Music Hall that outweighed the others-the opening act for a hippy-hop production duo called Hippie Sabotage, Alex Wiley.


I have been a fan of Wiley for a while–you might recall my December review of his album, “Village Party 2,” but aside from a surprise, two-song opening performance a few years ago, I have never caught him on a stage.


The moment my friend and I noticed that the Chicago rapper would be coming home on March 11, a day that fell on both of our spring breaks, we knew the moment would finally come.


Upon arrival, we quickly realized that we did not fit in with the majority of the crowd.


Legal drinkers were sparsely scattered amongst hundreds of kids in the 18-20 demographic, and surprisingly, there were roughly twice as many females as males. It was a surprise that we were only approached by one pair of underage girls awkwardly asking us to buy them drinks.


It was unfortunate that the opening acts had to deal with a poorly lit stage, but thankfully Wiley lit the stage up from the beginning, opening with a cut from “One Singular Flame Emoji,” “Solo.”


After the soothing and melodic opener, Wiley turned it up a bit with a screaming performance of his more recent hit, “Japanese.” After “Japanese” riled up the Concord, Wiley continued the heat with one of my personal favorites, “Claire.”


At this point, the crowd was picking up what Wiley was putting down, and he capitalized by hitting the one’s and two’s for a brief moment, with a variety of trippy sounds that led into his most popular song, “Vibrations.”


The vibes that “Vibrations” gave off were so fantastically vivid that I nearly spilled my eight-dollar beer. Those good vibes, unlike my beer, spilled over into “Navigator Truck.”


I was disappointingly optimistic that rap’s newest superstar and Wiley’s good friend, Chance The Rapper, would make a surprise appearance at his fellow Chicagoan’s homecoming, but unfortunately he did not.


However, another fellow Chicagoan and friend of Wiley, Calez, did make an appearance to perform his part of the song.


From seeing previous show footage, I knew Wiley incorporated a “F*** Donald Trump” chant into his shows. With Trump having free time in the windy city after protesters caused his Chicago rally to be cancelled earlier that day, I hoped The Donald would stop by to squash the beef with Wiley.


I was oh-for-two on my hopeful guest appearances, as the chant went off without a hitch. It was an amazing feeling to hear the chant and feel the energy on this particular night because of what had happened with Trump earlier that day just a few miles away.


After a powerful anti-Trump speech, Wiley closed his show in the most Chicago way he could, ending with he and Chance The Rapper’s remake of the Chicago hip-hop classic, Kanye West’s “Spaceship.”


The goosebumps I got listening to Wiley end the song by singing Kanye’s original chorus to the song were nearly unparalleled, and I couldn’t imagine walking out of the venue in a better mood.


That was until we actually walked out. While walking down the hallway to the front doors, I heard a passerby compliment my hat, which featured the Wiley lyric, “squadliness is next to godliness.”


I looked up to acknowledge the compliment, and was stunned to look and see Wiley himself standing there.


My friend and I always pose in pictures together with praying hands, a pose inspired by Wiley, and getting a picture hitting the pose with Wiley is one of my favorite concert moments ever.


Though as an opener he had a short and poorly staged set and a different crowd than expected, it was thrilling to finally see one of my biggest inspirations throw down for a few songs.


It’s been a while now since Wiley had his own headlining tour, as his past two full-length tours have now been as openers for bigger names.


After the energy and positivity that Wiley gave in Chicago, it is definitely time for him to get back to headlining his own shows.