Wednesday, October 08, 2008

TRIBE 2009: Birds of a Feather


arnival 2009 the big band TRIBE is hitting the streets with 'Birds of a Feather'. 2009 marks 5 years of mas for tribe and this instalment presents 15 sections of exotic birds of all over the world.

When Tribe exploded upon Trinidad Carnival in 2005 with tribal fantasy, they easily established themselves as the leaders of the new school in Trinidad Carnival, everything from the hype they created to the approach and style of their designs made tribe the flagship band of Trinidad Carnivals next generation.

Five years later although the band has already sold out, a critical look at the theme and the designs without the hype and biased opinion, the Photoshop and plastic looking bodies, has left me with one question, is Tribe still the leader of the new school?

The theme is simple enough for the creative talent at TRIBE, B.O.A.F is indeed an absolute no brainer, 15 exotic birds from all over the world, an aviary of bird mas.

Well looking back at the bands past presentations, TRIBE have more than the rest of the ‘new school’ tried to break away from the excessive use feathers in their presentations, for beads, chains, crystals, and appliqué are TRIBE’S modification of the old bikini mas formula.

However the rest of the new school has quickly and I dare say successfully, adopted the formula, and are well on their way cutting TRIBE’S leadership status of the new school down to style, and band launch dates.

Birds of a feather is a headpiece band, while most of the costumes are covered with detailed, diamante and appliqué and are beautiful close up, the actual spectacle can be found in the headpieces of these costumes, especially front line costumes like Brazilian Macaw, Spangled Cotinga, Ruby Topaz. The only section that seems to promise the most swagger on the road is the Kiskadee section, with a yellow that will set the streets well ablaze.

While nothing is mas is totally original, I was surprised and disappointed in TRIBES Humming bird section, is sadly similar to ISLAND PEOPLE’S songbird of 2006 (enchanted forest).

Costumes wise, ‘Birds of a feather’ as a band lacks punch, the designs while colourful because of the theme, are almost trademark TRIBE in construction, and the lower parts of the costumes are passé in design. The uses of appliqué, chains, rhinestone, etc are but variations on a tried and tested Tribe formula.

As usual the male costumes have an afterthought status in the band. None of the male section costumes inspire the masquerader or the designer in me.

As a fun band Tribe is tight, its reputation for service and quality costumes are some of the factors that keep the band on the top of the new school table of fun bands. However, with the competition of other bands using the same bling formula, and the seemingly annual birth of new bands entering the arena, Tribe is quickly losing its new school status, and position of leadership in design originality, and authenticity.

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