I almost didn’t go to this show, partly due to a tight budget and also because I had already seen Tech N9ne perform just over a year ago (at the original Rockpile West). Luckily, one of the local opening acts was selling tickets at a discount, and I was in turn able to fit this show into my budget. The only other time I’ve been to Rockpile East was earlier this year to see Redman, and it proved to be one of the best new venues in the Toronto/Scarborough area. Tech put on one of the best shows I went to last year, so I was expecting another awesome time with this show.
Tech N9ne is arguably the hardest working independent hip-hop artist today, with his most recent achievement being his inclusion in Forbes’ list of “Hip-Hop Cash Kings” for at least the third year in a row. He releases new music every year, therefore always having something fresh to add to his live shows, and his tour schedule is one of the most hectic an artist can have (he’s previously set the world record for longest running tour). He consistently sells out venues and always has to do more than one show whenever he comes to Toronto. On top of promoting his own music, he also owns his record label, Strange Music, which houses some of the best new hip-hop artists this current decade has seen. With this tour, Tech is out to promote his most recent album, an addition to his Tech N9ne Collabos series called Strangeulation.
I got to the venue about an hour after doors opened and the line to get inside was already stretched around the side of the building. When I got inside, there was already a multi-gendered group on stage performing, with a remix of Lil’ Jon’s “Turn Down For What” getting the crowd really pumped. There were several local opening acts including a group with a beatboxer, an emcee who also makes custom chains named L.G. (pictured above), and a band called Bohemian Grove that absolutely rocked the house.
On top of the local acts, there were also a couple touring acts from British Columbia opening for Tech N9ne. There was an emcee named Immaculate (pictured above), who I had seen last summer when he opened for Apathy & Celph Titled, with this being just his second time in Toronto. His set was longer than the last time I saw him, as he had cut his set short so that Ap and Celph could come out faster. There was also a group called Animal Nation (pictured above), who did a cover of “93 Til Infinity” by Souls of Mischief and also made some live beats with an MPC. Robbie G then came out and performed one song after hosting the entire night before Tech N9ne came out.
When Tech N9ne finally made it to the stage wearing his face-paint, the crowd got so loud that it was hard to tell what was going on. He came out to the only song he would perform off his 2009 K.O.D. album, “Strange Music Box”, before bringing Krizz Kaliko out. The main difference I noticed between this show and the one I went to last year was that it was just as much a Krizz Kaliko show as it was a Tech N9ne show. While Krizz usually plays the hypeman role for Tech N9ne, he’s a talented artist in his own right, and as such got to perform a bunch of his own songs (although I’m unfamiliar with his solo work).
While I didn’t recognize every song they did (I’ve only heard just over half of Tech’s albums and none of Krizz’s albums), I noticed that they didn’t stick to one era in particular. Tech performed newer songs from the past couple years like “E.B.A.H.” and “Straight Out The Gate”, but also jumped back to 2001 with “Einstein”. As usual, Tech and Krizz had great stage presence and choreography to go with every song. It was hard to see while jumping around in the mosh pit, but if you had a chance to step back and actually watch them, it was like watching a well executed musical (but with a more badass sound).
The crowd got rowdy, as I helped pick a white-boy up off the floor after a failed attempt at crowd surfing. Tech continued the show with a single off the new Strangeulation album, “Hard (A Monster Made It)”, before jumping back to 2011’s All 6’s And 7’s album with “Am I A Psycho?” and “He’s A Mental Giant”. While taking turns performing songs with Krizz, I recognized a bunch of Tech’s newer songs like “Midwest Choppers” leading into “Worldwide Choppers”, and “B.I.T.C.H.” and “Fragile” off 2013’s Something Else album. They also did “So Dope (They Wanna)” off that album, with Krizz adding his own verse to it and transitioning into one of his own songs.
After “So Dope” was a segment for the ladies. Krizz Kaliko performed his song “Titties” and Tech N9ne performed “Areola”, during which girls started hopping on their men’s shoulders and/or got invited on stage to flash their breasts. This was the most pairs of boobs I’ve seen at any one hip-hop show (R.A. The Rugged Man: you’re now in second place). After clearing all the bras off the stage, Tech then did a song for the fellas with “I’m A Playa” off his 2002 album, Absolute Power. Next, he made a toast to his opening acts and did a song to drink to: “Caribou Lou”. Tech N9ne then thanked us for supporting him and making all of his recent achievements possible, ending the show with his usual “Stamina” sign-off.
Overall, it was a great show as expected. Tech fought through the performance with a cold, apparently caught by sharing a blunt with a fan who had the flu. Even with the sickness, he still delivered his raps with the same speed and strength as the original recordings, and even did it while dancing. Some of my favourite songs he performed last year like “Blackened The Sun” and “Dysfunctional” were subbed out of the set list for some of Krizz Kaliko’s songs, but I’m not mad at all. Krizz can rock the house just good as Tech, and their synergy together is incredible. I’m glad I was able to make it to this show; with the large catalogue Tech N9ne has, and having Krizz’s catalogue thrown into the mix, they’re able to create a greatly different show with every tour they go on. Once again, Tech and Krizz lived up to their reputation as some of the best showmen in hip-hop.
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