An unruly Kansas City-themed party akin to the jubilant celebrations of the Royals’ victory in the World Series shook the Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland on Saturday. A capacity audience of about 3,000 witnessed Tech N9ne introduce exciting new components to his stage show.
Tech N9ne, 44, enjoyed one of the most successful years of his career in 2015. The hip-hop equivalent of Dorian Gray, the man born Aaron Yates is the rare rapper who is artistically and commercially relevant in his 40s. The two best-selling albums he released this year are loaded with depraved lyrics about sex and intoxicants.
Nothing was muddled about the first 45 minutes of Saturday’s performance.
Backing tracks were supplemented by guitarist Tyler Lyon, bassist David Pastorius and drummer Alien Warr. Their lively contributions allowed the face-painted Tech N9ne to supplement his trademark rapid-fire flow with demonstrations of his affinity for rock. He screamed like Roger Daltrey of the Who on the opening selection “E.B.A.H.”
Krizz Kaliko, Tech N9ne’s multi-talented sidekick who described himself as the ensemble’s “resident genius” on Saturday, dusted off his chops as a rock vocalist on crunchy versions of “Way Out” and “The Finger.”
Tech N9ne played the role of a menacing cult leader manipulating subservient worshippers during the beefed up “Straight Out the Gate” and he resembled a presidential candidate addressing global strife on “Aw Yeah (Intervention).” The effect was heightened as Tech N9ne mugged for the cameramen filming the concert.
After 45 exhilarating minutes, Tech N9ne paused to express his appreciation for the fans that not only “saved my… life” but allowed him to purchase a “$3.3 million dollar home.” Much of the second half of the 90-minute show resembled a painfully awkward after-party. The self-indulgent horseplay included embarrassingly juvenile locker room banter and clumsy attempts to entice women to expose themselves.
The tedium was interrupted by a bare-bones version of the 2015 hit “Hood Go Crazy,” a funky reading of “No K” and an interpretation of the Royals-inspired “KCMO Anthem” that Tech N9ne delivered amid the audience on the main floor.
Tech N9ne noted that he was breaking a longstanding tradition by not concluding the concert with “I’m a Playa.” The boastful song contained a bit of wishful thinking when it was released in 2002. Thirteen years later, Tech N9ne is firmly ensconced as one of the music industry’s most crucial players.