Even the first snow of the year couldn't stop anyone from coming out to The Bottom Lounge on Friday for the Doomtree show. Friday was the first time Chicago has seen the Doomtree collective perform as a whole, and no one in that audience left disappointed. It was clear that there were fans who knew only of P.O.S. or of Dessa, but the five other emcees and producers easily made you fall in love with the entire Doomtree collective.
Paper Tiger and Lazerbeak started the night off with a DJ set. Paper Tiger spun songs from his new album, Made Like Us. Lazerbeak then took center stage with an electric guitar and announced, " We are going to do some songs that aren't rap songs. Then we are going to do a shit ton of rap songs." P.O.S. then came out, to and DJ and add smooth beats with Paper Tiger. while Lazerbeak played a few songs from his new album, Legend Recognize Legend. Lazerbeak's roots are with his former indie band, The Plastic Constellations. He joked about not being able to rock out the "guitar face," so he took a moment and really hammed it up with the crowd. He also introduced Chicago to the "No Dance". "Imagine you walk out of the club and you are surrounded by haters up in your grill. What are you gonna do?" he said as he demonstrated the dance. "You just put your palm right up in their faces. What else are they gonna do?"
The rest of the Doomtree crew flooded the stage with a surge of energy as the audience broke out in cheers. They immediately started the set as a collective, in a round-robin style each performing their own rap. P.O.S. started out by performing "Goodbye" from his acclaimed album, Never Better. His energy and stage presence is contagious. P.O.S. stood on stage like a proud papa lion. After all, Doomtree is his baby, but in this family there are no favorites. Everyone is an equal and it shows.
Mike Mitclan then took center and declared, "This is the Wings and Teeth Tour. Hands over fists." As he started out with "Suicide Jimmy Snuffa", at that moment, all arms in the crowd went up recreating the Wings and Teeth logo. As he Initiated the crowd into the Doomtree family, Mitclan had everyone shout their names to him and told everyone to introduce each other to someone they didn't know standing by them. Mitclan then announced, "Welcome, you are all part of the Doomtree family." Mitclan, having the "bad boy" image of the group, is anything but. He is a bad-ass mother (insert expletive) and has every right to be. With his intense and faster than lightning rapping skills Mitclan will blow you out of the water.
The entire Doomtree crew stood on stage at all times and provided background vocals and beats for each other. If you ever needed a visual interpretation of the saying, "I've got your back," this was it. Sims and Mitclan rapped together on "Slow Burn" showing an amazing brotherly love for each other. Afterwards saying, "You know what this is? This is all of us up here acknowledging that we all exist." Lazerbeak and Sims then performed a few new songs off their upcoming album that is due out in February.
Cecil Otter calmly took center and started his set with "Rebel Yellow" followed by a new song. Later performing "Demon Girl" and "Sufficiently Breathless," before breaking out "Let Me Tell You". This song is probably his most recognizable for those unfamiliar with his work, thanks to his sampling of Grizzly Bear's hit "Two Weeks."
Dessa, the Wonder Woman of the crew, started out with quite the force on "Seamstress". Later, seamlessly performing "Alibi" and "Dixon's Girl". Dessa also welcomed Minnesota native, now Chicago transplant, Matthew Santos to the stage to sing "The Chaconne" with her. The performance was the most utterly beautiful and vulnerable of her set, until the crew left the stage, leaving Dessa alone center stage, only with a mic stand. She performed a spoken word piece, ending it by singing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" acapella. This was a sight and sound so beautiful that the crowd was moved tears.
After nearly nearly three hours of intense,conscious, yet playful music not a single person in the crowd left disappointed, but stunned and excited. The energy Doomtree exudes is like a drug that produces a natural euphoric high. I've never been witness to a collective so in sync and supportive of each other. Every single member of the collective has their own style and melds together as one. I've been to a lot of shows this year. Doomtree at the Bottom Lounge has trumped them all.