Tech N9ne was one wild party for Western.
I'm no stranger to intimate music venues. As a high school student in Seattle, I attended my fair share of shows in cramped spots. Some of my fondest memories from the city and high school take place at venues such as The Showbox, El Corazon, and Neumo's.
Being able to hear the band without the microphone can be a beautiful thing. Small stage venues such as the VU Multipurpose Room allow you to be a part of the experience as you stand shoulder-to-shoulder with fellow concertgoers and scream lyrics until your lungs hurt.
Until you've heard your favorite band live, it's hard to understand how much you're iPod really lacks and how much of atmosphere you're missing. Sometimes cramped shows get sweaty and sometimes they get a little rough. But the feeling of having an impact, of being a part of the music, is as potent as any practices in therapeutic art.
I guess in that sense, I sort of knew what to expect during a Tech N9ne performance, but I was not prepared for what waited for me at the VU.
When I arrived at the VU about 20 minutes prior to the doors opening, there was already a line of about 300 people snaked around the building. The more the merrier, I figured. It is a party, after all.
I got inside with enough time to settle in to a nice spot in the back by the soundboards. At the suggestion of ASP Pop Music Coordinator Hunter Motto, I was told to stay as far from the middle tiles as possible if I intended to take notes.
Much to my surprise it only took about a half hour to fill up the MPR with cold but enthusiastic Tech N9ne fans. There was some background music to keep everyone relaxed for what Strange Music had in store.
Through the gentle murmur of multiple conversations came a scratchy, resounding, “YEEEEEEAAAAAAH.”
The voice belonged to the emcee for the night, a short tattooed man who called himself “Scenario.” He informed us that we were joining the Strange Music family but that we all had to abide by the “party rules.”
“Party Rule number one: You got to like to drink. Rule Two: You got to smoke marijuana. And rule number three, you got to like to f**k,” he said as the crowd cheered with each pause. Later in the show, Scenario came on stage and declare that he is “high as hell.” He brought up a young boy named Blaze later in the show and held him on his shoulders while introducing other Strange Music acts.
After we'd been briefed on the rules, the opening act Grave Plott took to the stage. The best description I can provide for their sound is a lucid amalgamation of Gothic rock and gangster rap. It flows well.
As the crowd slowly warmed up to the duo rapping on stage, Grave Plott took it to an unexpected level. Liquid Assassin, one half of the group, delivered lyrics with supersonic precision. He began rapping so fast that my head dizzied from trying to keep up (a frequent theme throughout the night.) His partner, Killa C, removed his shirt toward the end of the set to reveal tattoos that covered his entire upper body. After he took off his shirt he took a large vat of fake blood, poured it on himself and sprayed it on the crowd. He walked off the stage soaked in red.
Two artists featured on a number of Tech N9ne songs, Skatterman and Snug Brim took over after the area was cleaned and the crowd was placid again. Compared to Grave Plott, these two played a very different set. They kept the mood relaxed to set up the next act, Michigan based rapper Prozak.
By this time the crowd had grown impatient. They were ready for Tech and they made it known. As chants of, “Tech! Tech! Tech!” rang out in the small space Prozak wrapped up his set and said he was glad to do his job of setting up the main act.
At the finish of yet another intermission (the concert was almost four hours in duration), the music kicked on and Tech came out to one of the slickest introductions I've seen yet. Set to strobe lights, the Kansas City native moved robotically across the stage rapping as he went until the music paused, at which point he followed in unison striking a pose. He remained in that pose for about a minute and a half as two other strange music collaborators, Krizz Kalicko and Kutt Calhoun, came out onstage in the same manner as Tech. The effect of the lights with the well-timed lyrics and the crowd's rowdy reaction to Tech created a very energetic feeling in the air. The room was ready to burst
When Tech hit the song, “Einstein,” there wasn't a single person in the crowd not bouncing with the beat. One particular highlight came when Tech and his partners performed a rendition of Queen's “Bohemian Rhapsody” with the assistance of the crowd.
He then transitioned from there into new music from the album, “Killer,” like “Crybaby” and “Poisonous,” as well as a few of his oldies all set to a rhythm so quick I feared an impending seizure.
The show ended as quickly as it had begun and I managed to get outside before the massive crowd was herded back out the MPR's glass doors.
Outside I saw a flash of white go streaking by and one surprised student who stood near the street exclaimed, “That's Tech N9ne!” He was avoiding the crowd and though I don't blame him, I chose to dive right in.
The responses I received, or at least the one's I could make out were typically positive. Many said Tech N9ne partied Western hard.
“That was sick. I love his Mid-West style. I won't be able to hear for a week, but it was totally worth it,” Western junior Griffin Day said, echoing the sentiments of many satisfied students.
Tech may have summed it up best however when he said, “Tonight is about partying.” Western responded emphatically.