It’s no secret that Tech N9ne loves Colorado and considers the box state as a second home. Returning to Red Rocks Amphitheater for the first time since 2009, he managed to completely sell out the nearly 10,000-person venue. Promoting the release of his 17th studio album titled The Storm, set to be released on December 9, 2016, N9ne appropriately named this year’s tour the Calm before the Storm. Along for this tour was JL, one of the newest members on the Strange Music label.
While not listed on every date for the tour, the Red Rocks performance also had some very special guests added to the show. New music from Mackenzie Nicole and another exciting performance of Rob Prior’s live painting made for a very special night for all the technicians in attendance and just another testament to the remarkable longevity Tech N9ne has been able to maintain over the years.
We sold out Fiddlers Green last year as the headline of Summer Jam; that’s about 18,000 people. But their were other mainstream n***as on that bill so it wasn’t just me. Now we’ve sold out Red Rocks by ourselves; that’s about 10,000 people. The only place left to do now is the Pepsi Center and get it up to 20,000. – Tech N9ne
Colorado hip-hop group Slo Pain was first up on the list of performers, hitting the stage early as fans continued to fill in the venue. Showcasing their spitfire lyrics, Slo Pain delivered a very energetic set and got the night off to a good start. Next out was the Baltimore-based rapper Starrz, a new face to many of the fans in attendance. Setting the tone off quickly with some heavy bass bangers, Starrz showed great stage presence and did a fantastic job at keeping the crowd entertained. The set only lasted about 20 minutes, but still was enough to win over some new fans.
Next out to the stage was the heir to the Strange Music throne herself, daughter of Strange Music CEO Travis O’Guinn, Mackenzie Nicole. The young artist recently announced the beginning of her solo career and even performed some brand new, unreleased songs for the lucky crowd at Red Rocks. The fans showed her a ton of love and support, and she flawlessly handled the pressure of performing in front of thousands of people. She even returned a little later in the night to finish her performance of “Actin’ Like You Know” with the help of Tech N9ne himself.
JL was next out to perform and it was a huge night of firsts for the talented artists. This was his first tour on the Strange Music roster, a huge opportunity to prove himself to thousands of fans. Not only that, but this was also his first time performing at Red Rocks, a memorable moment for anyone who has been given the chance to play the historic venue. JL performed a solid set and definitely managed to prove why Tech N9ne decided to sign him to the label. As the final cherry on top, towards the end of the night, N9ne brought Jl back out to the stage and presented him with his honorary Strange Music Chain, a sacred ritual to all Strange Music signees.
As the final fans made their way inside and completed the sea of people filling up Red Rocks, Tech N9ne was finally ready to hit the stage. Complete with his own one-of-a-kind performance mask, made by the same people who created Slipknot’s masks, and his longtime right hand man Krizz Kaliko, N9ne was fierce as he entered the stage with the intimidating red mask. Quickly jumping into some of his recent hits, N9ne started out the set with performances of “B.I.T.C.H” and “Am I Psycho.” Then came “Riot Maker,” immediately giving birth to a much needed burst of insanity and craziness.
Towards the middle of the set, N9ne took a quick intermission and let Kaliko rock with the crowd for a while. Kaliko used the time to his advantage and decided to sing a little bit for the Red Rocks crowd. He played his very successful single from last year’s Go album, “Talk Up On It.” The performance only got better from there, with Tech N9ne and Kaliko collaborating for a breathtaking performance of “Speedom (WWC2).” Pun intended, as the two of them traded verses that fired out words at a stunningly fast rate. You can’t have Tech N9ne without a little bit of darkness, and this show made sure the wicked were satisfied. As the lights on stage lowered to a darker red hue, N9ne brought listeners along down a deep rabbit hole of some of his darkest tracks.
As the concert came to an end, Tech N9ne even got a surprise of his own when members from his team presented him with the coveted Gold Plaque for “Hood Go Crazy,” coincidentally the last song performed of the night. As the show came to a close and things had gotten sufficiently strange, it was time to reveal the highly anticipated live paintings that Rob Prior had created during the show. He uses the sounds and energy from the live show and paints what he feels, and the pieces always culminate in a remarkable piece of art work that Tech N9ne actually hangs up inside of his house. It was a special night for the whole Strange Music Company, and Tech N9ne can now say he’s one of the select artists in history who have sold-out Red Rocks. His popularity seems to only be growing and he has his eyes set on the Pepsi Center next. A goal I wouldn’t be surprised to see him achieve.
All photos courtesy of Nick Annis.