A Tribe Called Red Rebel
Submitted by Lenny Stoute
It was a packed and seething house at Rebel , the anticipation high for the First Nations DJ collective's unveiling of current album We Are The Halluci Nation. ATCR occupy a niche all their own in mixing party music with political lyrics, hip hop beats with powwow-step. On We Are The Halluci Nation and the set which followed, the dominant rhythms were those of hip-hop, reggaeton, and dancehall, with most of the EDM influences back burnered for the show.
The video mixing of Bear Witness brings the visual focus, keeping it real by deconstructing and subverting pop culture depictions of Indigenous people. For the energy and rabble rousing though, it's all down to Zoolman, DJ NDN and Bear Witness and whoa, can they bring the party. In the span of three album, they've arrived at a musical and cultural nexus where their three communities intersect: North American indigenous people, DJ/EDM club culture, and the post-millennial global music community and the audience reflected that. From the first rattle of the tribal drums underpinned by massive bass beats, the place went nuts.
Checking them at a larger venue like Rebel was a showcase for the band's growth. Weaving a net of new material cut with classic club banger and introspective moments like "Sisters", through a 90 minute plus set, clap breakdowns, bassy synths, crunchy syncopated beats and spirited vocal percussion bobbed and weaved, flowed in and out, driven by unrelenting drum circle pounding. Opening with the title tracks' manifesto set the stage for a night of much more than the music of ATribe Called Red. They followed with a rejigged "Stronger," featuring a muscular and pumping bass line, then on came a crew of break dancers from all ethnicities doing handstands, flairs, turtles and their best B-boy and B-girl moves.
DJ NDN laid some shine on the dancers, entreating the crowd to give it up for the Halluci Nation, a tribe they created meaning “the tribe that they cannot see” who “see the spiritual in the natural”. With new music to work, the Tribe set about playing live-intended mixes of their material, occasionally dropping a cover, like the well-received tongue in cheek run at Snow's Informer.
Meanwhile, a steady flow of guest performers included two women in traditional dress and moccasins doing a dance with scarves, a hoop dancer and many other kinds of dancers. Things went up a notch when Lido Pimienta, who appears on the track 'The Light' came out to perform. Pimienta is a Columbian singer who grunts and growls while singing in Spanish. The bar went even higher when DJ NDN brought out the group's hero Tanya Tagaq, the Inuit throat singer who performed album track "Sila." Hearing the noises, she is able to create is a mind blowing thing, as she can be soft and delicate or harsh and angry, and you can always spot a few faces who've never heard her before. American Native singer Jennifer Kriesberg came by to perform her contribution to the album, "The Muse."
For the encore all the dancers came back out and receive a deafening ovation ahead of Shad, the last guest who performed "How I Feel" while the sweaty crowd went ape again. Despite the length of the show and the incredible energy level maintained throughout, when the lights finally went down, not a soul was ready to leave and did so with considerable reluctance. More testimony to A Tribe Called Red's innate ability to combine and make palatable information and partyation.