Concert Review + Photography: Doomtree Blowout at First Avenue (Minneapolis)

What goes into a Doomtree Blowout? Lots of sweat and  long hours of practice. Not to mention an amazing amount of love and respect. I arrived at First Avenue at 3 PM on Friday, Decemeber 10th, the first night of the Doomtree Blowout. After dropping my stuff of in the green room and making a round of salutations I headed outside to help load in merch.  Sims immediately greeted me with a warm smile and “Good to see you, Katia.” Back in the green room I found myself in a conversation with Cecil Otter reguarding a photo of him and Astronautalis with the caption, “The Advice Lords”. The two are good friends and I can’t tell you how excited I would be if they truely put out an album together.

Outside the green room the talented production staff were finishing the final touches to the stage. This was some nice down time because it gave me a chance to talk with every member of Doomtree for a bit. A wild and exhilerating weekend was ahead for all of us. During soundcheck a lonely Christmas tree lay near the stage, ready to be trimmed. Back in the green room we were surrounded by a sea of garland and wrapping paper. We wrapped everything from silly string to boxes of raisens to candy.   Doomtree was pulling out all the surprises for their fans and this was just the beginning of it.

Doors opened a little after 8 PM and fans were immediately greated by an epic Doomtree Blowout Six, Wings and Teeth ice sculture in the doorway.  Off the stage a catwalk-like extended thrust platform had been built for the performers.  A screen covered the stage playing videos and music. Behind the screen the stage was fully decked out for Christmas. The tree was up, strung with lights and garland. Garland also decorated the edges of the state and the table set for producers Lazerbeak and Paper Tiger. Bows, holly, wreaths and Poinsetta flowers were strewn about everywhere.

The night was filled with surprise guest performers. Maggie Morrison (from Lookbook) joined Paper Tiger to perform, “The Painter’s Arm” from his new album, Made Like Us. Lazerbeak grabbed the guitar and played songs from his album, Legend Recognize Legend. Dessa and Ashley Gold teamed up on stage to sing back up on his song, “Salt and Sea”, a crowd pleaser. Violist Erica Burton also showed her stuff on stage with Paper Tiger and Lazerbeak.  Ryan Olson (Gayngs) also backed up Cecil Otter on a few songs. Sean McPherson (Heiruspecs) also made an appearance with Dessa and her band.

The Doomtree crew took to the stage with a fantastic roar from the crown. After a few songs Mike Mictlan said, “We’ve been waiting for this crowd all year!” They fed off the energy with wide smiles and hungry eyes. It couldn’t have been clearer how happy they were to be home and to be playing this show.  The crowd was a sea of hands over fists and cell phones capturing every moment. When Mictlan took center stage, beaming with his hands over fists sign, all arms shot up in unison mirroring him. A sight that brought chills to anyone in the venue. Cecil Otter was joined by his band all three nights to perform songs from his album, Rebel Yellow. He joked of his gravely voice, “Sorry I ate Tom Waits for breakfast.”

Dessa appeared on stage in a sexy black dress, black boots and a white flower in her hair. Her talented band joined her on stage, as Sean McPherson took to the elecetric upright bass. First Avenue was transformed into a sexy jazz club,  as a red special flooded the stage on “Dixon’s Girl”. Signing other songs from her album, A Badly Broken Code, singer Aby Wolf also joined Dessa on stage. These two beauties have out of this world talent and a stage precense to match.  Jumping back onto stage the guys showered the crowd in silly string. “It’s a Doomtree Christmas, don’t say we never gave you anything!” P.O.S. excalimed as he launched gift wrapped goodies and candy into the audience before starting “Optimist”. Sims performed new songs from Bad Time Zoo his newest album due to be released on Feb. 15, 2011. “We’re gonna do something special right now. I’m so excited right now, I can’t hide it. Doomtree is my team.” He exclaimed as he gave one lucky fan a copy of his latestl 12″ vinyl, Burn It Down. After P.O.S. performed “Purexed” the crew headed off stage and the applause never faded. The crowds applaluse increased with a massive crescendo  that turned into drumming. Storming the stage once again the Doomtree crew ended the first spectacular night with “Prize Fight” and “Low Light Low Life”. Having a hungry crowd of 1,500 fans screaming your name, now that’s what I call a homecomming.

Saturday night not even a massive snowstorm, which shut down the city buses and cabs, could keep Doomtree fans at bay. Sims nicknamed the near 500 fans that showed up, “Snow-Troopers” and rightly so. Everything from coats to ski poles were checked at the coat check as the fans packed in close to the stage.  Midway through the screen lowered again as Sims rapped to  the premiere of his video for his first new single, “Burn This”.

For fans that couldn’t make it through the trecherous snowstorm Saturday night, the Doomtree crew with the help of First Avenue gave another surprise performance. They announced that Sunday night they would play an unscheduled show, The Doomtree Snowout. The Sunday show brought in nearly 600 fans, many of whom weren’t able to attended the night before and many who came for the first time. Before the show we decorated the stage with giant cardboard cut out, garland wrapped, and candy taped letters that spelled “SNOWOUT” across the speakers. As the set list varied for each night, it was wonderful to see the delightful Aby Wolf perform on more songs with Dessa Sunday. Doomtree had one more surprise up their sleeves. As they gathered on stage for the encore they brought all of us from backstage up to join them. Before launching into “Prize Fight” Mike Mictlan stated, ” We didn’t do this all three shows; this is the only show we’ve had people come up like this. Cause Doomtree isn’t just the seven people that you saw up on this stage. It’s our friends, the people you see right now, our family, this city and the whole country on this tour. Peep the video here.

Rapping and dancing on stage with Doomtree was the best ending to an epic weekend. Thank you Doomtree family for your talent, hard work and love. This is one family I hope to spend more time with in the future.  I’ve never witnessed a more in-sync collective with such open arms. Thank you Doomtree, let’s do this again soon. Follow the latest Doomtree news and pick up the new 12″ by Sims, Burn It Down.

**Big thanks to the wonderful Ricardo Zapata for his amazing photography skills. For more shots of the epic Doomtree Blowout weekend check out Ricardo Zapata’s photography.

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