Doomtree Blowout 9 at First Avenue, 12/13/13

Categories: Last Night
Photo by Erik Hess
Doomtree Blowout 9
First Avenue, Minneapolis
Friday, December 13, 2013

The unstoppable seven-headed hydra that is Doomtree rolled through to destroy First Avenue with a seismic two-plus hour set Friday. The annual Blowout tradition once again found the local legends occupying the Mainroom all weekend, and, as always, the crew reminded everyone why they've maintained such momentum for nearly a decade.

Building suspense with the opening to "Bangarang" repeating over dim light, the rappers emerged from backstage to big cheers and the snare-roll stomp of "Punch-Out." Mictlan's raucous opening verse was a great way to set the standard for the evening, and the energy level stayed steady from there over the course of the set. The combined efforts of Mictlan, Sims, Dessa, Cecil Otter, and P.O.S. have never failed to impress, with each backing one another to create a unified force even as the songs shifted gears and switched out lead performers.

Photos by Erik Hess
A number of tracks came from their last crew album No Kings, which made the effort to incorporate every member on every track, but all songs carried that same form-like-Voltron group effort. The rappers as individuals were given many moments to shine, each playing what amounted to mini-sets within the larger structure, usually consisting of truncated versions of around three songs from each artist's discography. But the other members were always waiting in the wings, ready with backup vocals and dance moves to heighten the songs.

Divided in the middle by an intermission ("We need to go smoke a cigarette," Sims proclaimed), Doomtree went through an impressive 40 songs, pulled from throughout their long careers to represent the whole of their body of work. They got into some deep cuts, such as Cecil's "Lakeshore Drifter" and "A Hundred Fathers", Mictlan's "OMG!", and the crew track "I'm Talking" featuring a surprise appearance from Crescent Moon (who Sims cited as a longtime friend and inspiration). Trading bars in a rotating formation at the front of the stage, P.O.S., Mictlan, Sims, and Crescent Moon commanded the audiences full attention even if they weren't totally familiar with the song.

Photos by Erik Hess
There were a number of brand new tracks unveiled for the first time as well, which won people over thanks to Doomtree's steadily evolving songwriting. Mictlan played a song with Aby Wolf which was stunningly optimistic and poppy, referencing his attempt to get beyond the struggles of his past few years by focusing his energy elsewhere and solidifying his family ties. While less grimy than his material from last year's excellent SNAXXX (which unfortunately had no songs represented during the set), it was a triumphant exclamation of some of the same mental reframing that lurked underneath that project, and a definite highlight of the night.

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