Tuesday, July 24, 2012


It’s been a long time since Tribe has moved me enough to put my fingers on the keys and say something.  But in this their 2013 presentation, Butterflies Beasts and Bacchanal (BBB) Tribe has attempted a definite change in their game plan, and from what I hear it seems like Tribe want a band of the year title.

Butterflies Beasts and Bacchanal is in my opinion one of Tribes best efforts since Tribal fantasy in 2005. But I wonder is it a real band of the year contender?
While there is no doubt on Tribes commercial success in the past eight years, they even split the band into two with Bliss for those very special people.  Its growth has been slower creatively.

I am of the opinion that the advent of K2K and their open ambition to claim a band of the year title, and their 2012 presentation of fresh ambitious mas in ‘The Waters Seas of Consciousness’, made K2K the new leaders of the new school. And even though K2K was a medium band that came 4th in their category, the Norman twins showed the new generation (including Tribe) the meaning of contemporary high mas, with their mixture of mas and high fashion that was the talk of Port of Spain.

Now Tribe wants to go after the once highly coveted title, a title that historically fun bands deliberately ignored and in doing so devalued. 
So now Tribe too has joined K2K in a quest for the Title.

 Does this mean that the fun band Tribe just got serious?   

Because BBB is comprised of an assortment of butterfly wings, those who know the history are already comparing it to the legendary Papillion of 1982 by Peter Minshall, it seems that any post 80’s mas that appears out of the norm or that creatively stands out from the rest is then Identified with Minshall, this gives testimony to the impact Minshall had on Trinidad’s carnival, especially mas. 30 odd years later Tribe does a butterfly themed presentation, and Papillion is instantly mentioned, Minshall’s contribution seems pyramid like on the Trinidad’s mas landscape in more ways than one a fact that may spell trouble for Trinidad’s carnival...
1982 Papillion:  http://noelnorton.com

In my opinion BBB is more like a modern mixture of both Stephen Lee Heung’s 1976 Band of the year ‘Paradise Lost’ (designed by Minshall) with devils and imps and Papillion with its butterfly wings.

Monarch male: Photo Trinidad Carnival Diary
Tribe’s female costumes comprise of beautiful butterflies, the pretty fantasy mas, which the band is known for. The male costumes being the scary opposites, the beast, the hellish dragons, the threat, (our reality?).  However make no mistake BBB is no Papillion, far from it.

Minshall’s Papillion was more than a butterfly band, it was an epic 19 section narrative done in the tradition of great bands before. Minshall the Social commentator, used the world and its inequities both socially and politically, through satire, and metaphor, drew reference to the butterfly world, and life and death, with sections like ‘The Establishment ‘and ‘High and Mighty’, were you found Tyrants, Conquerors, and Dictators, and of course the forever iconic King of the band, the Man, God, Devil, reflection of ourselves, ‘The Sacred and the Profane’ the 1992 King of Carnival.

 While Tribes beautiful butterfly wings of the individuals or frontline may be impressive, the back line of the butterflies and beasts are less impressive and hark back to Tribe 2008 Myths and Magic. Unless the big beasts and butterfly costumes we saw at the launch make up the majority of the band on the road don’t expect the visual spectacular Papillion produced in 82 or a band of the year title either.
The bands theme/storyline is no epic, at best it’s an allegory for just about every ‘fun band’ on the road, At its worst it sounds like a poorly re-structured version of the ‘Golden Compass’  where each beast has a relationship with a butterfly, instead of each human having its daemon ...
In a land far far away, surrounded by a fortress impenetrable to man, unimaginable to even the wildest most far-fetched of dreams, lies………the Kingdom of Bacchanal.The emperor rules his kingdom with a tight fist, ensuring that all who are within his gates have the best and most exciting existence possible. The emperor’s wild, unruly beasts guard the Kingdom. These beasts roam without mercy, warrant or restraint and would not hesitate to destroy anything or anyone who dares to cross the border.Each beast is subject to and subdued by a beautiful butterfly that manages to quell the fiery rage, and soften them into gentle submission. It is then, when the beasts are united with their counter parts, a beautiful thing occurs……..a unity of the highest degree…… pure and total bacchanal!!

So after the glare and excitement of the launch has passed,
 I think Tribe is going to have to bring much more to the table in order to wrestle the Band of the Year title from the grip the Brian Mac Farlane has on it for most of this century. For even when to his critics his mas is not at its best, on the road to date, his mas is the one to beat.

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