Tribe Called Red mixes politics and EDM in the Turret


Photo by Emi Zibaei

Especially for a free event, A Tribe Called Red was worth my Tuesday night.

Going into the concert, I knew nothing about the band. I’d never heard any of their music and I had no expectations, other than knowing that my boss’s sister loves them. Not a lot to go on, but I think that worked really well in that I was pleasantly surprised.

From what I had heard about them, I thought they were incredibly politically motivated and would be angry and loud — understandably so.

I expected rants about the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as well as personal stories about murdered and missing women. I prepared myself for an extremely heavy, real night. That wasn’t really the case.

Instead, what I found anyway, was that the music was about Indigenous empowerment, rather than discussing the issues in the community.

That worked really well for our crowd, I think.

Photo by Emi Zibaei

For Aboriginal Education Awareness Week, it highlighted the humanity behind the people we see on the news. There was no visible anger or politics — it was just people having a good time and bonding over music.

That’s not to say that Indigenous people weren’t represented. Some of the loudest cheering came from the two dancers that came on stage during some songs.

They also blended Indigenous dance with modern moves and it was really cool to watch. I particularly enjoyed the female dancer and how genuinely happy she seemed to be while she was preforming.

Representations of Indigenous people in movies played on a screen in the background of their the stage. This ranged from the classic Western to The Road to El Dorado.

It’s probably stupid of me to say as a film major, but I’d never really thought of these depictions politically before. Sure, I know the stereotypes that the classics shown are negative and simplistic, but I never thought about one of my childhood favourites and the way it represents a minority.

That feeling is probably what they were going for. They showed me that I am absorbing their culture through a lot of different mediums and I may not recognize I’m doing it.

They showed me I should be more aware and critical of the messages I am taking in.

Photo by Emi Zibaei

Their music wasn’t overly political in the sense of discussing specific issues, but it is bringing representation to Indigenous people and encouraging them to be strong and empowered.

Their music and representation seemed to be taking the way white people want them to be seen, then owning it and making it their own. It was interesting, fun and mostly engaging.

A Tribe Called Red is out of my usual scene. I like EDM, but it’s not my go-to music. I think that was true for a lot of people there.

That being said, I like things that are different and don’t sound interchangeable with other songs.

The blend of Indigenous music, like drums and chanting, worked really well with the hard bass and beats in what A Tribe Called Red played and it wasn’t something I had heard before.

My only real complaint was that it was too loud for such a small space. If you’re going to see them, I’d recommend seeing them on an outdoor sound stage. I think that would make the experience even more enjoyable, too.

Photo by Emi Zibaei

Going to an event at the Turret, I didn’t expect such a wide array of people. I knew that there were buses coming from Brantford and the Six Nations, but I still had it in my mind that it would be all university aged people.

For the most part, that was true. But there were also all ages, even some very small children.

I think a lot of the enjoyment came down to our personalities. I knew a decent number of people there and the ones who were having a blast were the outgoing people. The introverted ones were kind of awkward, but I think that comes with the EDM scene, rather than the band itself.

It was easy to tell who was having fun. There were some pretty amazing dancers in the crowd.

I’m not sure exactly if there were political messages they were trying to send that I missed. Maybe there were a whack of deeper meanings that I didn’t get because I didn’t know the music before.

Regardless, if all the other newcomers left feeling the same way I did, I think they did their job.


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