Tech N9ne takes over Santa Cruz’s Catalyst Club

On Tuesday April 19th, I made my way to The Catalyst Club in Santa Cruz for Tech N9ne’s ASIN9NE Tour with special guests ¡Mayday!, Joey Cool and X-Raided. This was my first show back under The Catalyst Club’s roof after two years due to the pandemic — obviously it was a very special show for me. Not only that, I’ve been a professional photographer for the last decade and have shot at least 100 shows at The Catalyst up to this point, but never able to capture a Tech N9ne show. You see, Tech N9ne happens to be my favorite rapper and was actually my first-ever concert (coincidentally also at The Catalyst Club) back in 2009. It was the Sickology 101 Tour with Murs: the stage was set up like a classroom — I’ll never forget it.

Flash forward to present day and we’ve come full circle. 

Doors opened at 7pm and at 8pm, the first of the three openers went on. ¡Mayday! from Miami got the hip hop party started. Rappers Bernz and Wrekonize had great chemistry; before doing some research, I actually thought they were brothers! My favorite part of ¡Mayday!’s set was their DJ and percussionist, who was playing real drums and bongos while smiling away, looking like he was having the time of his life. Next up was Kansas City rapper Joey Cool, sporting a black-and-white trucker hat. He offered a basic stage with just him, blue stage lights and his crown logo projected on the screen behind him. Although minimalist, Cool commanded the crowd’s attention for his 30-minute set.

Third up was prolific gangster rapper X-Raided, who had one of the most unique sets I’ve ever seen. At first, he appeared on the stage in blue penitentiary clothes, strapped by his wrists to what appeared to be a cross. He rapped the entire first song like this, with a crazy psycho look in his eyes while the big screen next to him had video of him rapping with same said look in his eyes. That’s not even as shocking as it got, because a few songs later, he comes out rapping in a Friday the 13th Jason hockey mask while holding a prop machete. X-Raided then introduced himself to fans who may not know his story by showing an old news clip on the screen: in 1992, he was convicted of first-degree murder and spent 26 years in prison where he recorded five albums over phones or smuggled recorders. X-Raided’s set left quite the impression and is something I won’t ever forget. If you’re someone who is scared of horror movies, like Friday the 13th, maybe proceed with caution…

For the grand finale, it was time for the King of Darkness and the #1 independent rapper in the world, Tech N9ne!

Unfortunately for me, I was having so much fun shooting the opening acts all my camera batteries were in the red zone and on the verge of dying. I went into Tech’s set very stressed for this reason, but as soon as the intro video started and Tech came out, all my worries went away — I was finally there in the pit with Tech right in front of me. I was so happy to have come full circle. Tech N9ne played all the classics and favorites like “Riotmaker”, “Einstein”, “Bout To Bubble” and “My World”, including the a cappella intro from “Melancholy Maze”, where he beats on his chest for the beat. Hearing these songs from Tech’s earlier catalog was so nostalgic as the crowd rapped along, all having a great time. It was the perfect way to kick of 4/20, being it was 4/20 eve! Santa Cruz’s Catalyst can be known for getting pretty hotboxed. “Santa Cruz, I love you stoners. I’ve got a contact high up here,” joked Tech N9ne. All in all, this was a phenomenal show featuring some really great moments. Be sure to check out Tech N9ne’s ASIN9NE Tour if it comes to a town near you!

Photography by Katey Schoenberger

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