The theater was hot and sticky with energy when her band came on stage, blasting music before she arrived.
While she played mostly hits from her 2018 album, Room 25, she also thrilled fans with songs from her first mixtape, 2016's Telefone. Her words cascaded quickly from her mouth.
With quick-witted, tongue-tying, honey-laced words, she weaved magic into the Ogden and laughed her way through the night, often praising her bandmembers and shifting the spotlight to her backup vocalists, nodding to her own past singing behind Chicago indie rapper Chance the Rapper.
At one point, a concert-goer fainted and had to be carried out. Noname took a moment of silence to reflect on what had happened and then brought fans back into her spellbinding circle, soothing their worries.
"Regal" was one of the standout songs of the night, and Noname's smile never left her face as she rapped the words, "I'm warmer inside the casket/Basket to tie my hair/Africa's never dead, Africa's always dying/No more apples or oranges/Only pickles and pacifists/Twitter ranting for martyrdom unified as capitalists/Give ’em death be gone."
Truth drips from Noname's words, but you won't drown in it. Backed by jazzy instrumentals, her lyrics, fierce yet gentle, invite us to understand who she is, what Chicago represents to her, and how she wants to connect others.
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Her set was a little under an hour long, and she left the crowd wanting more. When she came back for an encore, she did so without the band or any music undergirding her words.
Before being a rapper, Noname was a spoken-word artist in the Chicago poetry scene. The bridge she has built between poetry and hip-hop defines her sound and lyrical storytelling. By doing one last song without any instruments, she gave the crowd a pure version of herself and the bones of Room 25.