Doomtree gave everything they had to give over the past week. They left the stage at First Ave on Saturday night in a deafening drone of applause, the wings and teeth held highly by the crowd as they gave their final salute to the hometown heroes.
This was the conclusion of a week that saw the hip-hop collective stage seven staggering events in seven days. Moreover, Blowout X was a culmination of 10 years of DIY wherewithal that has propelled the group from a rag-tag circle of hopefuls to absolute idols in the Minneapolis/St. Paul music scene. And while the weeklong blitz of celebration and exhibition was a fitting homage to that decade of rebellion, as the echoes of "Team the Best Team" dissipated in the mainroom that night, there was still the lingering question of what will replace it next year.
What does the "Last Blowout Ever" mean for Doomtree? What does it mean for the Twin Cities?
The Blowout has been an institution since its inception. To think that it's not on the calendar for 2015 is disconcerting. It seems feasible that the Wings and Teeth have a successor up their sleeves, especially with a new album slated for January 27, but the mood in the room Saturday felt like a farewell show.
The needle on the energy meter was buried from the get-go, with "The Grand Experiment," "Boltcutter," and "Beacon" all filling the room. Every MC's face showed a week's worth of wear and a decade's worth of influence. Their vocal chords were torn to shreds, but each rapper subbed in where the other's voice waned. They took on each other's solo works as if they'd been Doomtree tracks all along. It was symbiosis -- a team ethic that has driven the group into the hearts of their fans. The night began in solidarity, but as the encore drew closer, the reality of the end crept in.
Doomtree took a breather an hour into their set, lowering the screen on the First Ave crowd. Before long, the screen went up, and DJ Fundo took the turntables. In the darkness, Kristoff Krane popped up, ripping through an absolutely breathless verse in honor of his fellow Minnesotans. He was followed by GRRRL PRTY (including a solo by Lizzo), Har Mar Superstar, Big Zach, I Self Devine, Astronautalis, and Prof.
It was a parade of gratitude. An honor that is often only seen in elegy.
The second half resumed as the first had begun. Mike Mictlan, P.O.S., Dessa, Sims, and Cecil Otter all took turns borrowing the spotlight, giving the audience time to appreciate the sheer density of the catalog Doomtree has had their fingers in while also letting us remember that there are many directions in which this group can shatter.
We know Dessa will be hitting the road in April along with the Current for her first solo European tour. P.O.S. will presumably release a Four Fists full-length this year with Astronautalis, and possibly tour following their New Year's Eve show at Turf Club. Both Mike Mictlan and Sims are still riding HELLA FRREAL and Field Notes momentum respectively and could be taking their shows solo. Cecil Otter is expanding quickly into the producer's realm, putting together instrumentals for Astro and Sage Francis recently, and could take that route. Lazerbeak's work with the exploding Lizzo could divert him away from his vocation behind the boards for Doomtree. This night could've been a swan song.[page]
Then again, it could also be a transition to bigger and better things. A popular theory is that Doomtree and Surly could take their highly publicized collaboration to the next level with a summer festival. In that respect, the guest list could be a preview of what's to come. Even if P.O.S. et al. are just curating the bill, this would be right in line with Doomtree's tradition of putting on their scene.
"Even the best dancers are bound to leave the dance floor." These were Otter's final words in the encore, and they're prescient. However, if there's one thing everyone in attendance knew, it's that Doomtree would never leave Minnesota.
It could be argued that the highly respected rap group could graduate from the local scene with All Hands, finally becoming a national entity. But the love for their hometown is unlimited. Doomtree has been the single most nurturing force in the Minneapolis music scene since Rhymesayers was founded -- this much was evident by the parade of A-list homages during halftime. Their roots are the forefront of their focus.
Blowout X was the end of a chapter, but it certainly wasn't the final chapter. Doomtree is here to stay, but the question is: in what capacity?
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