Words by Marissa Rubenstein, Photos by Blinkofanaye
I was running late Friday night as I headed through the doors of the National Museum of the American Indian for Smithsonian at 8’s Indian Summer series which was featuring one of the coolest electronic acts I’ve ever heard: A Tribe Called Red.
The security guards were giving me a hard time for being late (one of which was CONVINCED he knew me from Fox News, I’m still annoyed). Tribe was holding a panel discussion before the concert, and the theatre was completely full. Luckily, I was able to snag a spot standing in the back, but I was still incredibly flustered as I pulled out my notebook, when I heard a voice ring out as they asked the crowd for audience questions: “[A Tribe Called Red] may not realize it, but you guys have saved many lives”
Since I’ve been a fan for awhile, I knew that A Tribe Called Red is an electronic group from Canada made up entirely of indigenous members. They use Native American sounds and instruments to make some incredibly cool music (Not familiar? Check out their most famous song here, their most famous music video here). They have videos they stream during their shows which are designed to bring attention to racism about Native Americans in popular culture. But saving lives?
I learned quickly in that panel that Tribe is elevating the perception of the Native American community. They’re leading by example, showing there’s more for indigenous people than the depression and alcoholism that runs rampant through native communities and reservations. And apparently, it’s working. Tribe seems to embrace their positions as role models and it’s incredibly refreshing to witness.
As everyone moved to the center of the museum for the concert, I kept thinking how the EDM world has gotten quite the reputation for being the domain of hedonistic bros (both the DJs who perform it and the people who attend their concerts), and while some elements of traditional EDM are in Tribe’s show, they add a cool twist.
They have a dancer (a pretty sick Native American hoop dancer, who drove the crowd wild every time he galloped on stage), they do a lot of fist pumping, and they produce some pretty insanely good music (as evidenced by their ability to pack the American Indian museum on a Friday night). When’s the last time Avicii used his fame to bring attention to any ills that plague the Swedish people?
A Tribe Called Red put on an amazing show, are worth a listen, and you can download a single off their new album for FREE here