Report from the show: Big ups to Minnesota hip hop with Doomtree’s Dessa, Sims and Lazerbeak at Bottom of the Hill

Sorry, folks, I forgot my new camera at home and was reduced to taking crappy photos with my not-at-all-smart phone, so this is the best picture of Dessa and special guest Aby Wolf that you're going to get.

San Francisco has been a favorite tour stop for the Doomtree family for as long as there’s been a Doomtree. At least that’s what the Minneapolis alternative hip hop crew’s star female player, Dessa, told a packed crowd at Bottom of the Hill on Thursday, and there was every reason to believe her—the prime exhibit being the adoration the crowd showered on her, fellow MC Sims and DJ Lazerbeak.

There was the exuberant dude in the front row who knew every word to every song. There was girl who kept shouting, “I love you, Dessa!” at every opportune moment.

Dessa, headlining for the first time—an indication of just how well-received her debut LP A Badly Broken Code has been received, and not just by yours truly—nestled herself in the exotic spot where “female rapper” and “torch singer” overlap.

Performing with a sharp-dressed, three-piece band lent an entirely different aura to her songs. It has also affected her ability to read her audiences, she admitted. When you sing a ballad with a band and you absolutely nail it, the crowd reacts with a “hmmm,” she explained, pursing her lips and nodding. When you absolutely blow it, the crowd reacts with a “hmmm,” she said, with the same expression but a slight variation in intonation.

“And it’s fucking indistinguishable!” she said.

Some other highlights from the show:

  • My fiancée and I once again found ourselves enthralled by an opening act we knew nothing about. Sister Crayon, a Sacramento quartet, to my ears sounded a bit like Radiohead in its more trip-hoppy moments but with brash female vocals. The band got a great reaction and thanked the audience profusely.
  • Lazerbeak started off his solo set by offering “big ups” to Sister Crayon, then continued to use that phrase throughout the night.
  • Sims came out wearing a ridiculous lavender sweatshirt featuring what appeared to be 8-bit depictions of some fries, a Coke and an anthropomorphic burger.
  • When Sims finished the verse to “In My Sleep” with the line, “Ain’t no stopping man, push that rock,” he felt the need to clarify: “I don’t mean like crack, I mean like Sisyphus.”
  • My favorite Sims line of the night might have been, “Wild card like Charlie Day.”
  • Repeated references to the SF Weekly article that described Lazerbeak as “King of the Lavabangers” (“lavabanger” being a word Lazerbeak invented to describe some of his more ferocious beats). Dessa claimed he woke her up in the tour van to tell her that a professional journalist had dubbed him “King of the Lavabangers.” She told him to go away and come back when he was sober. “Then I looked it up on my iPhone … and threw it at him.”

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