Spain's Sonar Festival provided a teaser of what they're essentially all about for a two-night residency at the Roundhouse in Camden, kicking off tonight, doing what no other promoter prior had done - book the enigmatic, cult underground hip hop icon, Doom. Granted, this was part of a short jaunt around Europe but the popularity amongst discernable hip hop fans cannot be overstated. For the past decade, Doom (real name Daniel Dumile) has an output of material cataloguing many collaborations such as DangerDoom with (you guessed it) acclaimed producer Danger Mouse, resulting in the applauded 2006 release, 'The Mouse and the Mask'. That's not to mention guises on names from Viktor Vaughn, MF Doom, to just plain ol' Doom.
This time around however, the Fantastic Four/Doctor Doom zealot is on a brief trek across the continent plugging his latest release 'Born Like This'. After keeping everyone waiting rather impatiently for 50 minutes after scheduled stage time, he 'appears' onstage with first track 'Accordion Song' from the Madlib and Doom partnership effort LP, 'Madvillainy'. The reason for inverted commas in this instance is because an impostor, inherently a white person behind the metal face mask Doom is very seldom seen without has hijacked the show momentarily amidst an audio visual backdrop of metal faces and album cover related art work. Fans will know that this is nothing new, as the Supervillain is known for cheeky stunts such as not turning up for his own show with a disguised masquerader, which had happened last year in LA, subsequently leading to outraged blog posts online en masse.
Whilst this was also a homecoming show of sorts, prompting a flash of Dumile's British passport despite fleeing these shores for New York at age ten with repetitive shout outs of 'This is my home', It became quite apparent that not many people took the affectation in jest, with calls of 'Doooom' dubiously sounding like a cacophany of 'Boos'. But as the set went on, with the conveyor belt of the more recognisable tracks such as 'All Caps', 'Gazillion Ear' and 'Hoe Cakes', the waiting around and passive aggression on ground level was quickly surpassed. But then another hitch - in spite of all the goings onstage and the bopping of heads off it, we can barely hear a bloody thing throughout the fifty minutes Doom spends with the audience. Whether the buck lies with the sound tech or the acoustics of the over-bearing Roundhouse, it's far too bass-heavy in frequency from any vantage point.
Tonight was as much a testament to Doom's unique prowess and talent as a hip-hop artist, as it was a display on how rare it is to see someone so irreverent within that particular genre add some mistique and charisma to an otherwise po-faced scene. Even if he does wear a metal faced mask.