After a decade of year-end concert marathons, Doomtree announced they were killing their annual Blowout event ahead of last year's eight-day finale.
"I think over the last couple years we were feeling the burn of putting on the same type of event," Doomtree DJ/producer Lazerbeak explains to City Pages. "Ten is a good round number; 11 didn’t sound that tight, it sounded old. We thought we were up for a new challenge."
The beloved Twin Cities hip-hop crew has arrived at that new challenge, with the announcement Tuesday morning of a new and bigger party: Doomtree Zoo. The eight-hour, Doomtree-curated mini festival is set to hit the brand-new CHS Field, ballpark home to the St. Paul Saints, on October 3. It will feature family friendly activities during the afternoon — puppets from In the Heart of the Beast Theatre, face painting, kiddie raps from Koo Koo Kanga Roo — and get wild (zoo humor!) as the sun drops. Doomtree, of course, will headline their own Zoo, which took members months to discuss, curate, organize, and book. "If it works we’ll build on it, if not we’ll try something different," Lazerbeak reports. Here is the complete lineup for the inaugural, ahem, blowout (artist comments culled from Doomtrees' press release):
- Aesop Rock with Rob Sonic ("A rap hero to most of us. Watch the watching Doomtree members go nuts.")
- Trash Talk ("Internationally touring hardcore punk outfit. Ferocious on stage.")
- Shabazz Palaces ("Innovative Seattle-based hip-hop, signed to Sub Pop. The real deal.")
- Open Mike Eagle ("Funny, smart, sweet. Lives in California, raps everywhere. Creator of the Secret Skin podcast.")
- Serengeti as Kenny Dennis ("Man. Uh, man. You might just have to see this one for yourself. Bears, Hawks, Sox, Bulls!")
- Aby Wolf ("Easily one of the best voices in Minneapolis. Long time collaborator with the Doomtree camp.")
- Koo Koo Kanga Roo ("Described as 'the Beastie Boys meet Sesame Street.' Currently tearing it up on Warped Tour everywhere.")
- Anonymous Choir ("Sixteen-piece women's choir, founded by Dark Dark Dark's Nona Marie.")
"We always wanted not necessarily a circus or carnival vibe out of the Blowout, but we wanted to involve a lot of different elements. Doomtree Circus sounded a little too carny," Lazerbeaks says of conceiving Doomtree Zoo. "We were originally leaning toward calling this thing the Doomtree Fall Classic, because of the Saints feel, but we were quickly tipped off to Major League Baseball owning that. It’s a smorgasbord, we could have called it the Doomtree Smorgasbord — it sums up the shit we’re into."
It's been a busy year for Doomtree, with the final Blowout last December leading right into the release of their third all-crew album, January's All Hands. Now in their 14th year, the collection of rap pals — Dessa, Cecil Otter, P.O.S, Sims, Mike Mictlan, Paper Tiger, and Lazerbeak — view the Zoo as an opportunity to keep things fresh.
"It’s a struggle to gracefully age; [hip-hop is] a young person’s genre for the most part," Lazerbreak says. "We work hard to not only maintain relevancy, but that spark in ourselves to make awesome music together, to inspire one another and get the best out of one another. Stuff like [Doomtree Zoo] helps; it helps us sharpen our blades. It puts a pep in your step — there’s a fear element that’s very important. With the Blowouts, we knew we could sell that out. Obviously we’re not thinking of selling out an entire stadium, but stakes are the highest they’ve been for us, in a cool way."