Tech N9ne delivers old-school thrills

Tech N9ne and Krizz Kaliko at Harbour Events Centre, 3/23/19


The richest independent rapper in the world due to a relentless touring schedule … Tech N9ne finally landed in Vancouver at the Harbour Event Centre Saturday night.

Now nearly 50 years old, Tech has been doing this a long time and knows exactly how to put on an entertaining show.

Performing songs from across 15 of his 20 studio albums, Tech showed off his record-breaking speedy flows and displayed heartwarming camaraderie with frequent collaborator and unofficial sidekick Krizz Kaliko all night.

Walking out triumphantly with his arms raised, he began with the eerie “Am I A Psycho?” before showing the crowd how he got his stage name on the track “Stamina.”

Playing the sound of a Tec-9 machine gun, Tech was able to rap syllables as quickly as the bullets fired, leaving the audience transfixed.

It soon became evident that it wasn’t many people’s first Tech N9ne show. He’s amassed a huge cult following, and the fans knew every call-and-response routine on tracks like “Fresh Out!” and “E.B.A.H.” without any prompts.

Dropping into his most famous tour song, “Riotmaker,” Tech kicked the show into another gear. The strobes flashing wildly, the lyrics called for a riot as Tech and Krizz showed off some synchronized dance moves. The theme from Phantom of the Opera played, and Tech growled “ENERGY” to deafening cheers.

It’s easy to forget how much Tech intersects with the world of hard rock and metal as well, and he performed a couple of his heavier cuts in succession.

The crunchy, driving guitars of “Einstein” and System of a Down collaboration “Straight Out the Gate” translated well live and were some of the most fun parts of the show.

There were quite a few moments in the show were Tech let Krizz Kaliko have the spotlight with his own songs, and he completely deserved it – the tour wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining without him.

Kaliko on his own is an incredibly versatile performer, filling in on singing parts of any style with his booming vocals and matching Tech N9ne’s technical rapping ability, but it was his interactions with Tech that made the show.

The two complement each other so well, showing off some harmonized fast flows on “It’s Alive” before Kaliko mimed a wizard putting a spell on Tech as he walked backwards for a part of the song played in reverse.

Later in the show it was easy to see how much love they have for each other, cracking each other up with vulgar jokes and complimenting each other’s abilities: “Damn he can sing! I wish I could sing like that!” Tech beamed.

They began “No Reason” together as Tech yelled proudly “This is the song that started the beef between Eminem and MGK!” referring to MGK’s verse on the track that caught Eminem’s attention with lines about his daughter.

Tech’s “Worldwide Choppers” series of tracks is famous for breaking speed records, and he performed them all in a row. He bowed his head and relished in the crowd’s applause, waiting for it to die down for two full minutes.

In a moment near the end of the show that perfectly encapsulated what kind of guy Tech N9ne is, a bra was thrown onto the stage.

Tech lost his mind about it like a teenage boy, then promptly made a speech about how he donates the bras he receives on tour to shelters for women and children.

Tech N9ne is old-school fun for a new-school climate, and the rapper showed why he’s been the king of the underground for decades.