Concert Review: Common’s Ravinia Debut

On the Metra from Ravinia to downtown Chicago, I wrote this in the notes section of my phone. It is mos definitely, loosely edited.


Didn’t spend much time on taking pics and the ones I clicked were crappy, I was busy being present and just vibin’ and being familiar with an artist who I feel I’ve grown and evolved alongside.


The Windy City, well Highland Park….lol lol lol…close enough to Chicago, welcomed Common home. His first time at Ravinia and he repped hard! Check it, Common been making albums for 25 years, which his first album dropped my first semester of college. Damn, how time flies.


So let’s get into it. Two opening acts. Also from Tha Chi, DJ Twilite Tone kicked it off on the 1s and 2s. He was tryna get me to shake a shimmy by spinning another hometown dude, Kenny Burke from the south side, Chatham neighborhood (Tone also gave us a music history lesson.) I was hopeful with him bumpin’ “Keep Rising to the Top.”


But then, I got confused because he wasn’t blending songs and he was playing whole-entire songs like we were in the living room chilling with our own record playa, like dude, it’s 2017 and you been doing this since ever. Tone a cool dude but yeah, it was weird. Anyhoo, he tells us, “You can dance—don’t wait til the stars come on the stage, you’re a star too.” Yaaaaaasss, I’m a star! He also shared that he’s producing Cody Chestnut’s new joint. I just found out that Cody recorded his new project in a barn. Cody be on dat though. His first cd he recorded it in his bedroom and it was raw like it hadn’t been mixed down or anything, but I could dig it. Oh yeah, Twilite played a house mix of Solange’s, Cranes in the Sky, that was dope.


Tone’s set ended and the next DJ comes on. He got us ready to receive Taylor Bennett (Chance the Rapper’s, little brother). I think the young man can spit (rap), but he wasn’t cognizant of his audience. Not sure if Ravinia was ready for fuc#$%^ and pu#$@% and hoe rhymes. Oh little brother.


Quick set change and it was time for Common to make his Ravinia debut.


I was excited cos his band was present. I’ont know if this iteration of his band is still called Black Girl Named Becky nonetheless, he had a DJ, keys, drums, horn and a sista background singer. Sis’s voice was giving me Tamia. She added to his show. I thought Com said her name was Yusef or did he say she’s working with Malik Yusef? Not sure.


I think Common looked thinner than usual, but not Hollywood thin. He was full of energy hopping around and commanding the stage.


As Common went through his catalog I got to reminiscing on the past 25 years. I feel like I’ve lived several lives in 25 years. Anyhoo back to Common, I’ve seen him in concert many-o-times. I have his albums. It hit me how long it’s been since I’ve been rocking with this dude’s rhymes. I felt my age and it felt good.


He brought a girl on stage for “Come Closer,” and another song. Sis just moved to Chicago from Ohio. I liked that moment cos she was “regular” with some kicks on and a “chill tha fuq out” outdoor concert outfit.


I liked the arrangement of “Testify.” The band was smooth with its transition into a Prince tribute. Darling Nikki.


Anddddd Common housed it up on “Go.” He soooooo Chicago!


He brought his close friend’s parents on stage, the Dudley’s, celebrating 50 years marriage, that was also cool cos it was soooo regular.


Other of my favs included: “I Used to Love Her,” “The Corner,” “The Light,” “The People,” “Resurrection”…and always good to hear him include tracks from Can I Borrow a Dollar.


He ended the show with “Glory.” “Lil Tamia sang her face off on John Legend’s part.


The show was nowhere near sold out. I could tell by the number of people on the lawn and the Pavilion was far from capacity, but it was a full of good energy and the crowd was hyped. Now, I need Ravinia to bring Kendrick Lamar. I know, fat chance but I think he’d rock that venue, fa’sho!


It’s an interesting line “woke” artist walk. Wanting to center Blackness but not wanting to isolate their white “fans.” I’m always listening for the messages in between the songs/raps. Com referred to his people as ALL people, bruh, we don’t need this universality cos then you talmbout little ghetto boys and girls.


Com gave a shoutout to his cast members from the show he’s currently filming, The Chi. Which, it’s interesting that I was at a conference recently with Lena Waithe and she also talked about this new series. Anyhoo, some of the cast members were sitting in front of me. A sista came up to one of the womyn in the cast and I’m like, she looks familiar. I realize she’s sis from the movie Slam with Saul Williams. Sonja Sohn, the Afri-Asian sista who taught at the jail. I ask one of the sistas she’s with if that was her, but she didn’t kno her work on Slam so she said: “No, she’s from The Wire.” Sonja hears us and turns around and asks, “you remember me from Slam,” she was impressed because I guess most folk refer to her being on The Wire. She was pleasant and gracious extending her hand for me to shake.


All in all, I really enjoyed Common’s Ravinia debut. Lately, I’ve seen several concerts of musicians I love, but from other generations, so it was extra special to see hiphop on Ravinia’s stage, and my generation doing this music thing, still! And yes, Lauryn Hill was there last year and she is hiphop as well!


nicole jhan’rea

4 thoughts on “Concert Review: Common’s Ravinia Debut

    1. i always cheer for Chicago natives to win, even though i’m not always a fan of his acting. HOWEVER, i watch that movie all the time. lol lol lol

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