PHOTOS BY NATE RYAN/MPR
Last week—which suddenly feels so very long ago—I wrote a post reflecting on Doomtree’s new documentary, Team the Best Team, and specifically the unparalleled energy that the crew harnesses as a unit. “A sum greater than its parts” is a phrase that has appeared in countless reviews of Doomtree’s work, and that math equation was put to the ultimate test this weekend when the group was forced to perform two out of three of their big Blowouts at First Avenue without their most high-profile member. Even without the ailing P.O.S., the crew managed to transcend their setbacks and put on a brave-faced performance that was both honest and uplifting.
Given the recent events dominating the national news cycle, I’d imagine I wasn’t the only music fan who approached last weekend’s concerts somberly, and the opening moments of Saturday night’s Blowout did little to lighten that mood. Dessa paused a few songs in to note P.O.S.’s absence from the stage, asking the sold-out crowd of 1,500 to do their best to fill in his parts and promising that the rest of the crew would do the same. Moments later, Sims introduced the song “Fresh New Trash” by revealing that not only has P.O.S.’s medical problems weighed heavily on his mind, but that his wife has been suffering from organ failure as well. And yet Sims persevered, not only through that song but for the next two and a half hours, at one point telling the audience that we have a choice to respond to hardship with either grace or fear and then demonstrating just how powerful it can be to lean into the light.
The four MCs crowded together at the end of the catwalk and gave the night a much-needed shot of adrenelin by performing P.O.S.’s biggest banger to date, “Get Down,” and from that moment on the crowd and crew fed off one another, proving that positive energy is in fact a renewable resource that we could all do more to promote these days. The energy from “Get Down”—which featured Mike Mictlan subbing in for P.O.S.—coursed through the rest of their opening mini-set, propelled the full-band arrangements that fleshed out the middle part of the evening, and gave the crew’s merch man/DJ/unsung eigth member Ander Other the confidence to return again and again to nimbly fill in the holes pocked by P.O.S.’s absence.
Saturday was the second time I’ve found myself tearing up at a rap show this year, and all the hype and eye rolls in the world can’t take that away. On a weekend when it felt like nothing could lift our collective spirits, it was Doomtree’s reliance on sincerity, strength and love that reminded me why music is such an essential part of the human experience.