Tech N9ne unveiled a startling new production worthy of his formidable talent for more than 2,500 hometown fans at the Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland on Sunday.
The rapper has long taken pride in displaying more energy, imagination and professionalism at his concerts than most rap artists. At Sunday’s show — the final date of an extended tour — he was supported by the sort of creative stage set used by trendsetting stars like Kanye West.
Tech N9ne has long highlighted the disparate aspects of his personality. Sunday’s production captured that dynamic with screens on either side of the stage that displayed videos of the rival sides of Tech N9ne’s psyche.
A malevolent “clown” dressed in red rapped along on one screen and was balanced by an angelic “king” wearing white vestments on the other.
During opening selections including the Kansas City anthem “Einstein,” Tech N9ne interacted with his video counterpoints. Tech N9ne’s devilish component left his frame to take center stage on dark songs including “Am I a Psycho.”
Tech N9ne’s wardrobe reflected the shift as the abandoned video screen displayed a empty realm of hellfire. The virtual and flesh-and-blood characters traded places again for a set of positive material like “He’s a Mental Giant.”
Tech N9ne’s indispensable sidekick Krizz Kaliko facilitated the costume changes by rendering material from his solo career like the vigorous pop song “Talk Up on It.”
The overhauled segment of the show lasted about 75 minutes. Unfortunately, Tech N9ne stuck around for another 40 minutes, reverting to the sloppy antics that have long caused his hometown concerts to end on low notes.
The locker room banter and self-congratulatory blather alternated between resembling awkward acceptance speeches at awards ceremonies and the blooper reels that are shown over the closing credits of movies.
Each of the opening acts was an affiliate of the locally based Strange Music empire, a self-sufficient operation that’s the envy of discerning musicians around the world. Mackenzie Nicole, the daughter of Travis O’Guin, Tech N9ne’s partner in Strange Music, sang superior pop songs. The nimble Ubiquitous of Ces Cru and the gravel-voice Stevie Stone also impressed.
The infamous horror-rapper Brotha Lynch Hung delivered creepy songs about mutilation and cannibalism. Yet the eeriest element of Sunday’s show was Tech N9ne’s uncanny ability to reach new artistic heights more than 20 years into his remarkable career.