Doomtree, the hip-hop consortium out of Minneapolis, rocked the house for a sold out crowd on Friday at the Marquis. There's seven members of the rap crew (nine, including producers), so what began as individual displays of rap endowment sectioned off in perfect order from Dessa, P.O.S Mike Mictlan and Sims, ended up one massive posse cut after another, and it was awesome to watch.
Having been warmed up by Yonnas Abraham, who premiered several songs from his forthcoming Sextape, the party was well underway by the time Doomtree went on. The crew has been rocking shows in Denver for quite some time and has built an absolute cult like following, as evidenced by the passionate response they received when they take the stage.
People were passing around pitchers of beer and throwing their heads back in laughter with such elation, it was clear who the real fans were, and it looked like that description applied to everyone in the venue. The whole place felt like family reunion of sorts. Doomtree gave a lot of props to the Colorado crowd for being fans and supporters during the band's come up. Their efforts were met with enthusiastic response and applause from the fans
The most significant thing about Doomtree is the solidarity its members appear to show each other while on stage. Whether backing up the MC in the spotlight or engaging the crowd for enthusiasm, each member was alert and rehearsed. Dessa, the sole female in the group was on point virtually the whole night. In many instances, she backed up Sims, who had an audibly strained voice throughout his a capella and incited P.O.S. to fits of frenzied dancing, which hyped the audience even more.
Dessa's solo set gave an intimate feel to the venue as she sang and mixed elements spoken word poetry over subdued and almost trip-hop beats from her album, A Badly Broken Code. She gave a defiant and raw, yet appealing and accessible performance. Her lyrics and depth thoughout were overshadowed by an overzealous crowd but her saving grace was her ability to engage the throng. As the evening wore on, it seemed the audience got livelier and the performances became more hype with each song. Even with brand new material that even the performers struggled through a bit, the feeling of intoxication never fettered.
P.O.S. completely stole the show with his brand of punk rap mixed with James Brown style screaming and soul. He stopped for several moments to explain the hook for a new song that he wanted crowd participation with. On his cue, cheers went up in perfect time with his frenetic a capella. He responded with praise for the crowd, declaring that "Denver has been fucking amazing to Doomtree for years." Sprinkled throughout the evening were several snowboard jokes about "nailing it" and other charismatic bantering from Cecil Otter, the hilarious personality in the outfit. He seemed to invoke his inner Johnny Cash on his country-rap songs, and his singing voice was brilliant. He chose to rap, though, with an expressionless delivery that supported his lyrical dexterity.
At one point informing the crowd that "this song is about assholes, dingbats, and shit bags for friends," he jokingly conveyed his vulnerability after telling the crowd to shut up while he sings. This was met, of course, with more cheers than jeers.
The most impressive effort of the night was put on by Sims, the straight spitter of the crew. Even with a strained voice, he still put it completely down for hip-hop by standing on the speaker and declaring he needed help but was determined to make it through the whole show. He did indeed make it through the evening, dropping a few new tracks, including a chopped and screwed joint that made the walls rumble with bass and the crowd roar with pleasure.
Pulling off the feat of having all members of the band on stage, giving the utmost attention and energy to the crowd, and dancing without bumping into each other, Doomtree came off as consummate professionals while giving the people what they wanted -- a major party.
CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK Personal Bias: I tend to lean toward rap groups of a larger size, groups like, Wu-Tang Clan, for example. By the Way: Stephen Brackett of The Flobots was on hand, a bit under the weather but in otherwise good spirits, wearing an awesome brass button jacket. Random Detail: This was the first show I've covered in a long while in which clouds of weed smoke didn't obscure my view.