Music News & Reviews

Not so strange: With Tech N9ne, first StrangeFest concert in downtown KC is a success

Tech N9ne on Boulevard’s ‘Caribou Lou’ beer: ‘It’s perfect’

Tech N9ne's platinum hit song "Caribou Lou" is the inspiration behind the new Boulevard Brewing Co. beer Bou Lou. The wheat beer with coconut and pineapple is "perfect," says the Strange Music rapper, who recently toured the Kansas City brewery.
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Tech N9ne's platinum hit song "Caribou Lou" is the inspiration behind the new Boulevard Brewing Co. beer Bou Lou. The wheat beer with coconut and pineapple is "perfect," says the Strange Music rapper, who recently toured the Kansas City brewery.

The most peculiar element of StrangeFest, the music festival held in downtown Kansas City Saturday, was that a similar function hadn’t previously transpired.

Although Strange Music was founded in 1999 by rapper Tech N9ne and businessman Travis O’Guin, the Lee’s Summit-based entertainment empire hadn’t staged a large-scale concert until this weekend.

The successful venture proved that the festival concept suits Strange Music. About 5,000 party-minded rap fans attended the inaugural edition of what’s intended to become an annual event. The label’s renowned attention to detail and insistence on tight scheduling was evident. A stage erected on Grand Boulevard in front of the Sprint Center hosted the first five performers. The second portion of the seven-hour festival took place in the central courtyard of the Power & Light District.

Tech N9ne’s 80-minute headlining set contained all the elements that allow him to retain his self-proclaimed title as the Kansas City King. The rat-a-tat speed rapper born Aaron Dontez Yates is 47, an advanced age that makes him a Methuselah by rap standards. He maintains his global relevance through his admirable business savvy, audacious work ethic and stupendous talent.

Tech N9ne opened his show with “N9na,” the title track of his 21st studio album. He finessed the show’s charming choreography with the agility of a promising rookie in the Kansas City Chiefs’ spring training camp and nimbly enunciated the tongue-twisting lyrics of the rapid-fire “Stamina” and “Speedom.”

In addition to his customary exhortations encouraging inebriation and expressions of gratitude for the ongoing support of admirers, Tech N9ne played the roles of an effective peacemaker and a benevolent monarch. He applied the power of persuasion to break up an altercation in the audience and presented new Strange Music roster members King Iso and Maez301 with necklaces in a ritual that was akin to a knighting ceremony.

StrangeFest’s primary fault was a lineup that occasionally sounded like a bass-heavy echo chamber. King Iso is among the many acts at StrangeFest who are heavily influenced by Tech N9ne. Should Strange Music opt to expand the range of the festival by including prominent artists outside its roster in future editions of the endeavor, it could join the ranks of Soundset in Minnesota and New Jersey’s Summer Jam as one of the most notable — and strangest — music festivals.

Tech N9ne set list: N9na; Stamina; E.B.A.H.; unknown; Einstein; Riot Maker; The Beast; Am I a Psycho?; Dysfunctional; Midwest Choppers; Speedom; Anxiety; Areola (snippet); Bad JuJu; This Ring; Come Gangsta; Red Nose; Jellysickle; Straight Out the Gate (snippet); Girls Like That; Erbody But Me; Caribou Lou; Hood Go Crazy

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