The Agency Group

SXSW showcase reviews

Doomtree (Photo by Aubrey Edwards)

The Agency Group

Back Alley Social, Wednesday, March 18

A temporarily busted subwoofer and shoddy microphone setup never stopped Minneapolis' most hard-assed hip-hop troupe. Instead, the six-deep Doomtree swapped mics with one another as they ripped through tracks from last July's self-titled debut and whipped the crowd into an early-evening frenzy feeding on the Great North's fiery industrial hip-hop. Inglewood, Calif., duo U-N-I rode backpacker anthems from recent mixtape Before There Was Love and the upcoming A Love Supreme, scratched out at the hands of charismatic Lady Sha. Rappers Y-O and Thurzday swung J-Dillian on "Beautiful Day," opened up an airy bounce with "Windows," and popped the top off Supreme's lead single, "Hollywood Hiatus." No track caught a buzz as big as Before's "Vitamin B." Its playground stomp and guest MC work from NYC ally Curtis nearly set the roof off Austin's former Whisky Bar. Successors Common Market couldn't hold the attention of the audience the way Doomtree and U-N-I were able to, but their three-song assault before taking even a second to breathe proved that the Seattle duo's not far offtrack. Big-bodied rapper RA Scion's scruffy-as-shit flow mashed with DJ Sabzi's Ant-inspired beats as the two ran through almost half the tracks on September's Tobacco Road, closing with the infectious title cut. Making a point to remind the crowd – and future promoters? – that, "If you see the 'E' on the marquee, drop it," L.A.'s Blu spat bars at MF Doom pace in succession, an endless supply of rhymes from a rapper whose true likeness is more akin to Mr. Lif than the Madvillain. Things smoothed out after a triumvirate of packed punches when the Blu-collar worker encouraged DJ Exile to "put on the smoke joint," thus cuing the lighters. Switching speeds from turbo to Houston but always staying funky, MC Geologic and DJ Sabzi's Blue Scholars project preached "stand up or fall down" to a hopped-up crowd that by the end of the night had to have broken a few fire codes.

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