Doomtree fans buckled in for a marathon celebration of the collective’s family tree last night at Familia HQ in Minneapolis.
While Doomtree have not dropped a group album since 2015, its members have stayed ridiculously busy with side projects. Several offshoots had their chance to shine before the crew took the stage last night at Doomtree Forest, a show presented by Red Bull Music.
As doors opened, people were greeted by Paper Tiger’s beats. The indoor skate park had been transformed into a venue with a bar, merch booth, and a raised forest set-up. Paper Tiger stayed on stage as Cloquet and was joined by J. Gundersen on vocals.
That was closely followed by Longshot and Lazerbeak performing songs from their album Parades. Longshot is originally from Chicago but has relocated to Minneapolis. He had donned a “Dump Trump” shirt and took a minute to freestyle about the injustices in the United States. Close behind the indignation followed a message of self-love.
Mike Mictlan hit the stage next with a warm welcome from the crowd. Mictlan’s last solo album, Hella Frreal, came out in 2014. He opened up with Doomtree‘s “Game Over” and “Prizefight” from Hand Over Fist, after which he said, “Some of you look like you missed me.” Mictlan ran into health problems in April 2017 when he was hospitalized for untreated diabetes. The crowd welcomed his performance as a solo artist with fans screaming along.
The elusive Cecil Otter was next on the lineup. Otter’s last solo EP was entitled Dear Echo and featured only three tracks, which he said no longer fit where he was in life, but which he thought fans should get to hear. When he took the stage he highlighted new music that he is producing along with two other musicians. He didn’t rap but instead combined hip-hop beats and an indie music feel.
Sims, Air Credits, and Icetep went on next, playing songs off the recently released album Arteriá Verité. Rapper Sims and producer Icetep told tales from the post-apocalyptic world created by Chicago rapper Show You Suck and producer The Hood Internet — collectively known as Air Credits. Both Sims and Show You Suck had two mics, one with regular vocals and the other with voice modification adding to the ominous futuristic feel.
Four Fists hit the stage next. This project consists of P.O.S and Astronautalis with backing by DJ Fundo. The combination of these three musically makes for high-energy, danceable music. The three enjoy a fraternal cameraderie on stage; at one point, DJ Fundo rubbed P.O.S’s sweaty head and rubbed it over his own.
Dessa took the stage next with Monakr and Kara Laudon and was greeted with some of the loudest cheers of the night. She only had 15 minutes on stage so she rapped fast and hard, at one point speeding up “Dixon’s Girl” as she went. She closed out her set with “Fire Drills,” eliciting great applause from women in the crowd.
Next were Shredders. This combination of Sims, P.O.S, Lazerbeak, and Paper Tiger has produced some of the most danceable music to come out of the Doomtree family tree. The group released their first album, Dangerous Jumps, in 2017 and have been touring it for the past year.
Between Shredders and Doomtree, Lazerbeak took 10 minutes to perform as his project Night Stone.
Finally, it was time for Doomtree. The group opened up with “Gray Duck” from All Hands as the majority of the crowd rapped along and jumped around. Everytime Doomtree performs, I find the fluidity with which they move around each other to be so impressive. They navigate the stage effortlessly, something that comes from years of performing together.
Throughout the set, Dessa’s vocal performance stood out as an area of major growth. She’s always been a great rapper, but as she has pursued solo music and honed her own vocals she has brought that back to Doomtree.
The group performed songs from their more recent albums, but they also played some deep cuts. Regardless of what Doomtree era they were pulling from, the crowd was ready to rap along or dance. During mission statement “Bangarang,” the crowd screamed along to Sims’ lines, “I built more than a rap career/ I’ve got my family here.”
Ever since the Doomtree Blowout series ended, there haven’t been too many opportunities to see the full crew perform in Minnesota. Doomtree Forest served as a place for the Doomtree fan base to dance hard, rap harder, and show their appreciation for a pillar in the Minnesota rap community.