Doomtree unleashed

The Minneapolis hip-hop collective brings its Doomtree Zoo to CHS Field on Saturday.

Chance Wellnitz

Last December marked the end of a decade of Doomtree Blowouts, annual label showcases that were one of the few times in a year fans were able to see all seven Doomtree members — P.O.S., Dessa, Cecil Otter, Sims, Mike Mictlan, Lazerbeak and Paper Tiger — on stage together.
 
The blowouts were huge, rowdy and consistently sold-out celebrations at First Avenue, and this year, Doomtree is going even bigger.
 
“We knew we wanted to do something that involved other artists and other mediums … and spaces that felt [and] looked new to us,” rapper Sims said.
 
The Doomtree Zoo opens its gates this Saturday at CHS field in Lowertown St. Paul. 
 
The crew is using the additional space to its full advantage, booking acts and performances that wouldn’t have worked in the previous club environment.
 
There will be face painting, a double-dutch team and Minneapolis’ In the Heart of the Beast theatre is creating a procession with huge puppets through the ballpark.
 
The festival also features musical acts that reflect the varying tastes of each Doomtree member.
 
“You get everything from, like, electro-pop to a cappella performances to hardcore to experimental hip-hop,” Dessa said. “So you have this really wide breadth of music.”
 
Local acts start off the festival. Anonymous Choir, a 13-piece female group, sings aching, lushly harmonized covers of Leonard Cohen and Neil Young tracks with spare piano arrangements.
 
Comedic rap and dance group Koo Koo Kangaroo stop by before embarking on their Joyful Smiles tour with MC Lars. Their song “Shake It Well,” an ode to and instruction for
shaking juice beverages before drinking, features a guest verse from Doomtree rapper P.O.S. 
 
Although Koo Koo Kangaroo are kid-friendly — children under 8 years old get into the festival free — the duo are not specifically for children; last year the duo opened for folk singer-songwriter Frank Turner.
 
Minneapolis electro-pop artist Aby Wolf returns home from a recent string of European shows. Wolf lays warm vocal tracks over spacey soundscapes, writing chilling tracks that are intimate yet evoke a sense of loneliness.
 
Later, the lineup shifts to a hip-hop focus, with Chicago rapper Serengeti performing as his character Kenny Dennis followed by LA-based rapper Open Mike Eagle. The lineup changes gears once more with Seattle’s heady and experimental hip-hop duo Shabazz Palaces before going completely off the rails with Californian hardcore punk band Trash Talk.
 
“People should let their kids stay for Trash Talk,” rapper P.O.S. said.
 
Critical darling and Doomtree favorite Aesop Rock is the penultimate performance of the night.
 
“He’s one of the most innovative voices in rap music, period,” Sims said.
 
Festival namesake Doomtree will finish the night with intensity.
 
“If you haven’t seen a Doomtree set, it really is a force to be reckoned with, man,” Dessa said. “You can tell that we’ve been working together and sharing stages and hotel beds and spare ribs for more than ten years. It’s an explosive event.”