Review & Photography by Tracy Fuller
The Independent Grind tour made its way to Emo’s East in Austin, Texas this past Thursday, the 8th of November. While Strange Music always brings a great show full of energy and electricity, this night was something special. Tonight, was the one and only, Tech N9ne’s 47th birthday! The proclaimed King of Darkness was here in the ATX and made sure everyone there was in celebration mode.
This was the first time I had seen Tech N9ne play at Emo’s to a half-sized room, but that did not stop the party. Usually, when Tech rolls into town, there is a local hip-hop act that brings their own following but, oddly enough, there wasn’t one this night. There was even house music playing for a solid hour.
All of a sudden, the house lights dimmed down, and DJ Hoppa comes running on stage to hype up the crowd, bringing a high level of energy and excitement. Then, Dizzy Wright hits the stage bringing vibes of unity and lyrical freshness. I have not seen Dizzy since the Funk Volume days, the label himself and Hoppa were a part of. Let me tell you though, they have not skipped a beat since then. They still bring it all to the stage.
Up next was Futuristic. I had heard of him before but, I must admit, I did not know a whole lot about him. He was born in Illinois but is a long time Tempe, Arizona resident. He gained traction from a 2015 release that hit the Billboard 200. Futuristic holds quite a bit of charisma and is very active on stage. There were several moments when he was high jumping. I will be keeping an eye out for what Futuristic brings in the future.
Finally, it was time for the birthday party to get started. With a bright snake and bat set as a background (dubbed the official Strange Music logo) the crowd eagerly waited. Then the lights went out, and the giant LED screen lit up. Something different from the usual Tech performance – a cinematic movie featuring Tech & Krizz Kaliko. I won’t give away the details of the five-minute-long short film but it set the stage for the night.
Stepping forth through a fog of haze, Tech, clothed in black with the familiar face paint making him look like he had just passed through the shadow realm, nearly made the venue implode by dropping arguably one of his best-known tracks to jump the evening into high gear. ‘Am I a Psycho’ was chanted back by the audience at full strength.
Easily one of the hardest working artists in the industry, Tech is consistently pushing out new albums and seems to be enduringly on tour. But when you have a man who can spit double-time verses as fast as a Tec-9 weapon, it is no surprise that he is in a consistent demand across the planet.
Allowing the crowd to bask for a while in his solo glow, it wasn’t long before Krizz Kaliko, dressed identically to Tech N9ne, took to the stage. Their execution of ‘Strange Music Box’ from the 2009 album K.O.D immediately distinguishing the day-one fans at the front of the house from the rest of the crowd. Displaying almost razor-sharp synchronicity, the duo jumped onto ‘Riot Maker’ before N9ne let Kaliko crush the masses with a couple of his own tracks; ‘Anxiety’ and ‘Kill Shit’ from his 2012 album Kickin’ and Screamin.’ The floor seemed to arch under the weight of the crowd’s intense bouncing.
While the assembled never quite seemed to get N9ne’s desire for a mosh pit going – despite dropping ‘No Reason’ – they nevertheless fixed on every word that sped at light speed over the duo’s lips, their roars getting heavier as N9ne got quicker. Bringing out the obligatory chair, N9ne teased those in attendance with a couple of acapella snippets of ‘Low’ and ‘Red Nose’ before springing ‘This Ring’ from his 2001 album Anghellic on them. Calling for everyone to “put your lighters up” the venue was soon illuminated with dozens of tiny flickers.
The expected hits like ‘Caribou Lou’ and ‘Areola’ all made an appearance. ‘Erbody But Me’ followed in at full volume, but it was Tech N9ne’s closing hit ‘Hood Go Crazy’ that saw the fans off into the night in a state of pure happiness. Tech N9ne’s declarations of how much he freakin loved them all rang in their ears.
Showing that he is still very much at the top of his game Tech N9ne is an artist that is a mandatory must-see live act.