If you are a New York hip hop or music concert goer, chances are one of your many excursions have landed you in SOBs’ medium sized venue. Since I fall into one of the two previously listed categories, I have spent my fair share of nights in blissful cramped heaven watching performers excite the onlookers in the converted Brazilian restaurant. Usually, when I find myself there, it’s to see a bill consisting mid-major rappers and aspiring up-and-comers; the crowd is typically littered with industry spectators attempting to stay ahead of the game or friends of the artists. I have never been at SOBs for anything other than a hip hop show…except for Wednesday night.

Last night was different, almost magical. Yeah there were still industry heads buzzing around and if you looked closely enough, you could spot some of the band’s friends in the crowd. However, it wasn’t the show I had come to expect to bring me to SOBs. The Social Experiment methodically demonstrated that their tests and ever expanding formulas are marked successes.

When the lights dimmed, signaling to the crowd that the magic hour had finally approached, it was clear that most of those present hadn’t heard or taken Chance the Rapper’s words seriously enough. In their Fader interview, Chancellor—easily the most famous Social Experiment member—reiterated that the band and its forthcoming album, Surf, are Donnie Trumpet’s project. Nonetheless, as darkness descended from above and the silhouettes of Nate Fox, Stix, and Peter Cottontale became clearly visible, a “Chance” chant drowned out all other noise.

Chance was quick to remind those lucky enough to witness the surprise show that the official flyer did not have his name on it. “We are the Social Experiment,” he stated, right before the musicians broke into “Home Studio.” The crowd instantaneously erupted into a frenzy, a combination of the tight rhythm section, Donnie’s powerful trumpet, and Chano’s incredible live prowess overwhelmed any harsh feelings from the reprimanding.

The Social Experiment centers around one key concept: having a good time with great music. Officially not even a full year old, their progression has defied what most experts would deem logical. When “Home Studio” first dropped on Soundcloud, they were “Chance & The Social Experiment” and showed no signs of where they were going. Eleven months later, Donnie Trumpet has taken center stage, a usurpation that has left many scratching their heads at Chance. Why squander the buzz from Acid Rap?

Perhaps, because fame doesn’t always translate to an enjoyable lifestyle or the creation of amazing art. Even those standing at the bar in the back of the venue, could see just how much fun the band was having on stage. Their enthusiasm was bursting and infectious; Elle Varner took the stage with little to no preparation and just danced, scatted, then exited with a smile from ear to ear. Donnie summed up the entire experiment succinctly, when he paused the show to remark at how incredible it was to make music and perform with your friends for living.

This optimistic vibe hit its climax during the performance of “Everyday Wonderful,” the majestic reworking of the 90’s baby favorite Arthur. At Chance’s behest and Donnie’s encouragement, the crowd became a vibrant chorus; every syllable of the “Everyday it could be wonderful” refrain was filled with emotion and promise. The experiment began to feel more like an exercise in the power of positivity than just a typical concert.

It felt like you were partaking in a jam session at a friend’s place, not watching a world touring band, with a member who also happens to be the highest rated free agent in hip hop. The hour long set was intimate, with anonymous screams from the crowd were acknowledged and answered. Donnie addressed the audience multiple times throughout the show, describing his dreams and just being genuinely thankful for the opportunity his talent so rightly deserves.

When Chance first grabbed the microphone and moved to the back of the stage, there was some confusion to be sure. Everyone’s questions were answered when Donnie picked up the trumpet and blew that horn to kingdom come. He was fighting a cold, but no one would have noticed without his admission. “Nothing Came To Me” only hints at Trumpet’s talents, as he quickly shifted tones and adapted to each style presented to him. There were moments where the audience reacted to Donnie’s rifts as if he was dropping the illest bars ever heard. He would hit a note and everyone would cheer like they had the punchline memorized. This was a novel experience, akin to hearing a new song.

Typically when a rapper performs a new song at a live show, it takes a while to warm up. Everyone is listening intently and judging their enjoyment right then and there. Chance didn’t allow that to happen for the track assumedly called “Paradise.” Instead, he taught the audience the lyrics and demanded that we all sing along during the hook, which featured The Social Experiment playing as bombastically as possible. If you were not present for the start of the song, you would have thought it was a top 40 Hit by the way everyone was singing along.

Chance dances, sings, and raps for days, seemingly filled with unlimited energy his solo live show are always raging.  The fact that I left as exhausted at the Social Experiment show as I did from a Chance show, is a testament to how good this band really is. Mr. The Rapper has surrounded himself with a great group of friends, who are talented in their own right.

Robert Glasper was introduced on stage for the final number, “Sunday Candy,” which seemed like the perfect possible ending for this night. Everyone was up and moving, Glasper blessed the keys with a heavenly solo. Once the final solo was had and everyone was on edge awaiting the grand finale, the night still felt incomplete. There had to be more, the mood just felt too good to abruptly end and thrown out to the cold New York night. In our busy lives, running from point A to point B, it’s rare for me to experience that sense of euphoria and contentment. I wasn’t chanting for Acid Rap or mad about the lack of rap, most people weren’t. We just wanted what the Social Experiment and the good vibes back; we’ll have to wait til Surf.