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Here we go!


I started listening to A Tribe Called Red about a year ago and fell in love with their combination of traditional and modern Native American music. Like, who could not love this?

Then they toured Minneapolis during the summer while I wasn't here, and toured PA with Gogol Bordello while I was working and couldn't get over there. Tragedy!

But I made it this time, friends. I finally made it.

I got three other people to come with me and everyone had a good time. The venue was very cool and small, and we got there early enough to get three of the very few seats - there was a balcony type deal immediately over the dance floor that had a great view. But.. yeah, sitting at a concert is not for me. I sort of alternated between bouncing and standing for the opening acts, and 20 minutes into the main set I was down on the dance floor with one of my friends. I got within five feet of the stage, which was awesome, survived one incredibly tall, incredible drunk dude (wearing steel-toed boots to a concert is the best idea I've had all year), and couldn't hear anything for three minutes after the music ended. It was awesome.

There's a lot more to it than that, though. A Tribe Called Red is explicitly political and activist (if you want a modern protest song, Woodcarver is almost too painful to listen to), and so were all the other Native MCs that opened for them. The crowd was a pretty even mix between Native and white or Asian, which - idk, the venue was right in-between the University and the only metropolitan Rez in the US, so that's not surprising. But the white and Asian people in the audience were almost all young and alternative/hipster-y, while the Native audience had a much broader age range and presentation. As a white person who was there and freaking out over the music, I hope it seemed like I/we were there in support, even as I suspect that we were turning a really important movement into disposable/quirky entertainment. But it's also club music? It's meant to be entertainment and to reach a wider audience.

I haven't sorted my thoughts out on this, sorry. Here is an interview with A Tribe Called Red because obviously they are way more qualified to talk about themselves than I am, haha.

MEANWHILE, photos and more commentary! Most of these photos are from here because I have never taken a non-shaky concert photo.

Rez Rap opened - a very cool hiphop collective from Bemidji/Red Lake. Only problem was that it can be really hard to follow live rap if you haven't heard it before, so the only song I really got into was Rez Rap Anthem (which I had looked up). Definitely interesting, though.

Rez Rap performing


Rez Rap performing again

Then we had Tall Paul, who was pretty fantastic. More live rap, but way easier to follow. His Prayers in a Song is fantastic. He also brought a couple Native MCs who are just starting out onto the stage (totally didn't catch their names), which was a theme of the show. I love that A Tribe Called Red is opening doors to Native performers (although Tall Paul is pretty established locally).

Tall Paul performing


Tall Paul performing again

AND THEN A Tribe Called Red! It was just DJ Shub and Bear Witness - DJ NDN was out for surgery, which hopefully went well and easily. But the two of them were phenomenal and I have nothing coherent to say. Look at Bear Witness' vest:

Bear Witness DJ-ing in a leopard print vest


A Tribe Called Red performing

Also there was a hoop dancer! He did about six or seven short dances, getting more and more complicated as the night went on. I have a billion phone photos, but only a couple are okay and none of them capture this dude's skill and joy in performing:

the hoop dancer


more hoop dancer

Whoever was taking photos at the venue took some incredibly psychedelic ones:

multiple-exposure photo of the hoop dancer


another multiple-exposure of the hoop dancer

Yeah, those photos capture the experience pretty well.

I've spent waaay too long writing this, but to summarize: it was awesome! I am still thinking about it! I was going to say that I'll never be at another concert like this again, but screw that, I want there to be fifty concerts like this and I want to go to all of them! The end.

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