It felt like Soundset in September this past weekend, with two big outdoor bashes headlined by two of our big-kahuna local hip-hop acts – neither of which has been seen much of late.
ATMOSPHERE AT CABOOZE PLAZA: The 4,000 fans spilling out into the street on Friday seemed to bring some pent-up enthusiasm into the sold-out gig. After storms kept the group from finishing off Soundset in May, this one became the only hometown show of the year by Slug & Co. aside from their immediately sold-out Welcome to Minnesota gig at First Ave in February. That’s not what made it a special occasion, though.
“Happy birthday to Eazy E!” Slug coyly yelled as he took the stage. He wasn’t kidding about it being the late Eric Wright’s birthday, but it was also his own. Slug turned 40 by turning it up on stage, never acknowledging the real cause de celebre during the show, and actually talking relatively little (for him). He barely gave the rest of the band a chance to chug water between songs (or whatever Ant was trying to drink). He made a point of throwing in several of rapidly rapped “Lucy Ford EP” songs (“Between the Lines,” “Guns and Cigarattes” and the rarity “Shoes”), plus what he called “the oldest song we know,” “God’s Bathroom Floor.” In short, he seemed dead-set to prove he’s not slowing down.
But Slug did act his age a couple times toward the end of the 105-minute set. First, he made a stern get-out-the-vote rally cry in which he didn’t name names – “Drop off your ballot with Scooby Doo written on it, at least your vote will count,” he said – but he did urge fans to vote no for both the marriage ban and voter ID amendments. Can you even imagine a 26-year-old Slug knowing what those things are? Word is he is going to stump more for the "Vote No" supporters, too, which probably had something to do with his promise of a free Atmosphere gig in town "some time in October... we don't even know where yet." Stay tuned for that one.
The real-life Sean Daley then turned more personal than he probably ever has on stage in his life, carrying his toddler son out before the crowd as he delivered “The Family Sign’s” most familial ode, “Something So,” for the very first time live. After years of being erroneously called one, it was nice to see Slug turn into an emo rapper at least for one special night.
DOOMTREE AT SUMMIT'S BACKYARD BASH: The seven-member hip-hop collective helped celebrate a birthday of another kind Saturday, Summit Brewing Co.’s 26th anniversary. Proceeds from the five-band party– held outside the St. Paul brewery under a massive tent – went to the nonprofit Minnesota Music Coalition, adding an exclamation point to the company’s long support of Twin Cities music. They must’ve brewed up plenty of proceeds, too. The tent was bulging with a few thousand fans by the time Doomtree exploded onto the stage around 4:30 p.m.
Unlike the crew's Rock the Garden set in June – its only other local gig since last December’s Blowout shows – the crowd reacted wildly from the get-go Saturday, starting with “No Way” and “Low Light Low Life.” Dessa’s “Alibi” and “Dixon’s Girl” earned some of the biggest cheers in the first half of the show, reinforcing the fact that this was the rare beer fest heavy with female fans and talent (also including Caroline Smith and Now, Now).
The second half was just a blur of adrenaline, leaping rappers and booming bass. And that’s not the beer talking. Two of the already-beloved tracks off the upcoming P.O.S. album, “F—Your Stuff” and “Get Down,” bookended a string of ecstatically consumed songs, including “Slow Burn,” “Eyes on the Prize,” “Little Mercy,” “Bolt Cutter” and “Bangarang.” Before he ran away with “Burn It Down,” Sims stopped to put a little perspective on the rabid proceedings: “We probably couldn’t have even done this two or three years ago,” he said of the party’s headlining slot, sounding a little sentimental about it. That might’ve just been the beer talking.