I first heard Tech N9ne’s music just over nine years ago. I saw him perform live for the first time on June 4th, 2009 at a place called the Pearl Room just outside of Chicago. Since then, I have purchased over thirty albums released from his Strange Music Inc. imprint and seen him perform eleven times in four different states. To say that I’m a fan of his work would be an understatement. A more accurate statement would be “A large factor in my reasoning to get into the music industry is because the work Tech N9ne & Travis O’Guin did when starting Strange Music Inc.”
On Saturday night, Tech N9ne and I both took one more step further in our careers. He performed for the first time at the newly renovated, and very impressive Armory in Downtown Minneapolis, a show in which I attended for the first time as a member of the non-paying public. Sent there on assignment to cover a man, and a movement, that has had such a significant impact on the person I am today brought me great pleasure, and getting to shake the man’s (Travis O’Guin) hand who I’ve looked up to for nine years, was something special as well.
As I approached the doors of The Armory, I was immediately taken aback by the size of the building itself. This was the first time I’ve had the opportunity to attend a show since the remodeling of the historic building, and I was equally as excited to check it out. Perfecting the process of getting people into the building in a timely manner is still a work in progress for everyone, but after some minor wait times, I was finally able to walk up the steps onto the floor of the venue.
I arrived just as newly-signed Strange Music artist Joey Cool was wrapping up, and promptly took a spot behind the soundboard to watch the show. However, for the first ten minutes, there wasn’t much show-watching going on, as I was taken over by all the sights and sounds of this awe-inspiring venue. As mentioned above, I’ve seen plenty of Tech Shows, but none in a venue quite like this.
After Joey Cool wrapped up, it was time for Strange Music’s own (literally) Mackenzie Nicole to take the stage. For those of you who are unaware, Mackenzie is the daughter of CEO Travis O’Guin, who recently signed on to, and released an album though, Strange Music’s Pop division. She has been singing hooks and choruses on Tech N9ne songs, as well as performing live with him since she was nine years old.
As she took the stage, I was honestly unsure of what I was going to get. There is absolutely no doubt of this girl’s raw talent, both live and in the studio, but at only eighteen years old coming from a label that excels in their execution of live performances & the stage presence of their artists, it was clear she had big shoes to fill.
What we got was Mackenzie doing exactly that. While she only had a short set (she would come back and do one more song during Tech N9ne’s performance) she highlighted a few songs from her album, as well as taking us on a trip down memory lane singing her parts to some of the more popular Tech N9ne songs she had been featured on over the years. Overall, it was an impressive performance from the heir to Strange.
Unfortunately, the hype created by Mackenzie was shortlived, as a hype man for our next performer, Just Juice, took the stage. What unfolded next was nothing short of confusing and uncomfortable, as he hit a spacebar on a computer which in turn played “Lamborghini Mercy” by Kanye West and ran back and forth across the stage attempting to “rumble the roof!”
Seriously, the number of times this guy yelled “ONE…TWO…ONE.TWO.THREE.LET’S GO!!” was laughable at best, and did absolutely nothing to pump us up. His childish and foolish behavior regrettably took much of my focus away from Just Juice’s actual performance, leaving me without much to say other than find a new fucking hype man.
Finally, it was time for Tech N9ne and Krizz Kaliko to take the stage. While the time between sets at Strange Music shows is often filled with multiple people shouting “When I say TECH! You say N9NE! TECH! (N9NE!!!!)” and “Oooh (Areola!) Oooh (Areola!) Oooh (Areola!)” there is always a particular hush that falls over the crowd when he’s about to come out. That form held true last night, as the lights when down and people prepared for the one hour and forty-five-minute thrill ride upon which they were about to embark.
A common theme among Tech N9ne’s albums over the years has been breaking them down into fluent, but ultimately distinct sections. This theme can be found on multiple albums but can be most easily recognized in his 2016 album The Storm. Broken down into three parts, Kingdom, Clown Town, and G. Zone, each section highlights a particular skill set, or better, mindset, that Tech finds himself in when writing, recording, and performing these songs. This theme has now boiled over into his live set, with costume changes and “intermissions” in between where Krizz Kaliko takes the helm and performs while Tech is offstage.
First, coming out on stage in a red “Tech N9ne” jersey, we enter the G. Zone. These are the more serious songs, songs with a message. Songs that highlight his life, his family, who he is as a person, and what he hopes to accomplish. A highlight of this section, for me, was the performance of “Riotmaker” and “My Wife, My Bitch, My Girl” from the album that started my affair with Strange Music, Everready.
After a brief costume change and an always impressive solo performance by Krizz, Tech N9ne was back, this time in a mask and white jumpsuit, indicating we have entered the Clown Town. These songs often show the dark side of Tech N9ne, most present on his 2009 album KOD. This section consisted of a few songs coming from that album (which happens to be my favorite of his albums) as well as a performance of “Starting To Turn,” the song from The Storm in which he wrote with Korn frontman Jonathan Davis.
After wrapping up the Clown Town portion of this show, it was now time to enter the Kingdom. These are songs which Tech N9ne explained to the crowd “Contain elite lyricism. Very intricate, high-difficulty rhymes.” Including a couple snippets of his famous “Midwest Choppers” songs, as well as “He’s A Mental Giant” from his album All 6’s and 7’s, this was the shortest “section” of all, but what resulted was a barrage of rhyming only Tech N9ne himself could supply.
After this, he took one last opportunity to change into some more permanent, and presumably comfortable, clothes to finish the rest of his set. This included a section of his songs that have either gone Gold and/or Platinum over the years. From the hard-hitting lyrics of “Fragile” to the party track “Caribou Lou,” this was definitely the most hyped up section of the performance and insured the night would end on a high note.
Just before the final song of the night, a fight broke out behind me and unfortunately caused me to miss much of the end of his performance. However, in true Tech N9ne fashion, as I was walking out the front doors of the venue I could hear Tech doing his salute to the crowd, thus bringing the night to an end.
Tech N9ne continues his Planet tour through June 23rd, and more information about it can be found at Strange Music Inc’s official website.