It’s been a long time since I posted a concert review because it’s been a long time since I’ve been to a concert. But I couldn’t miss A Tribe Called Red, one of my favorite musical acts to emerge in recent years. The three DJs based in Ottawa, Ontario mix electronic music with First Nations’ chants and drums in a style called Electric Pow Wow. Their music is danceable but lyrically is politically and socially charged with messages from contemporary native communities.
The opening act featured YVNG PAVL and DJ Big Bear of CLLCTV Boston who spun an eclectic mix of dance tracks that got people moving on the floor. The two DJs worked together at a small soundboard often crossing one another’s hands in a surprisingly intimate manner. CLLCTV is definitely something I’ll be checking out in the future.
DJ NDN, Bear Witness, and 2oolman took the stage around 10 pm with a simple set-up on one long table. Projected behind them were repeating clips of movies, cartoons, and perhaps performances on tv variety shows depicting clichéd and stereotypical Native American images in a way of reappropriation of the “Hollywood Indian.” Unlike A Tribe Called Red albums where the musical tracks are distinct pieces, in the live performance they ran as one long and highly infectious dance mix. Periodically a pair of dancers would come on stage, received enthusiastically by the audience, performing a mix of native dances and breakdancing. Their clothing similarly mixed traditional native dress with African-American hip hop styles.
The set seemed to be over soon after it begun, but checking the time I realized that nearly two hours had passed. I long wished to travel to Ottawa to experience the Electronic Pow Wow, but I’m glad that for one night it came closer to home. It was definitely a performance worth seeing.
A side note, this is the first time I attended a concert at The Sinclair. It’s an intimate venue, but while small it didn’t feel crushingly crowded despite a sizeable crowd. There’s a large standing room only space on the floor in front of the stage with a smaller mezzanine with balconies on the sides. Looking at the list of upcoming performances it looks like The Sinclair has taken over the dearly departed T.T. the Bear’s role of offering famed but not superstar performers from a diversity of genres a place to play in Cambridge.