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