POP Montreal’s free show featuring A Tribe Called Red attracted many bystanders and livened-up otherwise dull Wednesday night
On Aug. 27, POP Montreal and Monster Energy presented a free concert at Place Emilie-Gamelin, right outside the Berri-UQAM metro station on Ste. Catherine Street. The concert, starting at 4 p.m. and lasting roughly six hours, featured an all Canadian line up including Pierre Kwenders, AroarA, and ended with the First Nations DJ trio, A Tribe Called Red. The culturally diverse mini-festival included hip-hop, indie and electro/dance music that seemed to fit together nicely and create a relaxing yet beat-filled atmosphere.
The night began slowly with a light drizzle of rain, but as the sun went down the assorted crowd seemed to grow with both fans and curious bystanders, some of whom would appear to be there only for their favorite Juno award winning DJ crew, A Tribe Called Red (for Breakthrough Group of the Year, 2014). The band consists of DJ NDN (Anishnabe), Bear Witness (Cayuga) and DJ Shub (Cayuga), all originating from Ottawa, Ontario. Their sound can be best described as the artists put it themselves: ‘Pow Wow Step’, a hybrid genre of traditional Native chanting and drumming and puts it up against the head bobbing beats of modern dance, electronica, and dubstep. The culturally dense and spiritually deep sound that is unique to the trio was heard through fan favorites such as “Red Skinned Girl”, written and performed by Northern Cree and remixed by A Tribe Called Red and “Electric Pow Wow Drum”. The group is often associated with activism. Their lyrics bring attention to the many issues and discrimination that First Nations people face. One of their songs from their self-titled album called “Woodcarver” is a mosaic of news reports highlighting the injustice of police brutality against indigenous people.
One of the biggest attractions of the performance was the hoop dancer dressed in traditional attire that would come out and perform on stage, doing handstands and flipping as the trio mixed their records. What seemed to attract most of the crowd was the Tribe’s uniquely Native sounding take on club music, which their studio recordings emphasized a lot more than the live show did. This became obvious through the crowds reactions to their favorite songs, which focused on chants and drum beats, whereas the mood seemed to calm down when the group sounded more like regular club music. They played remixes of pop song such as Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” and the “Cantina song” from Star Wars.
Despite the small hiccups of relaxation, the people kept the rave-like atmosphere up for the whole night The performance seemed to really bring the ethnically diverse audience together through redefining club dance music by adding a new cultural dimension.
Overall it was great night–a free and memorable way to end the summer.