Tribe Carnival tied the fi nal knot of its bejewelled rope around the mas industry with an emphatic no-expenses-spared three-tier presentation, on Saturday night, at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain.
The Dean Ackin-led mas makers paired the Bliss brand with their marquee Tribe mas during a theatrical, simultaneous-showing on a two-level pyramid designed stage.
The clattering bois and screams of live stick fighters atop a dramatic DJ-played Afrikaans rhythm pulled the massive “Soca Monarch-sized” crowd into the opening of their Forbidden (Tribe) and Secret Garden (Bliss) presentations.
Both were consistent in design, staying true to their respective brands of bubble gum bright elaborate feathered head pieces (Tribe) and detailed gem studding with matching custom-made jewelry accessories (Bliss).
With all the talk of evolving design in mas Tribe/Bliss has stuck to what they know best, selling the experience of carnival. The Woodbrook-based band seemed more focused on the glitz and glamour of creating a larger than life occasion than actual costume design.
The dramatic musical score, dynamic electronic visuals and stunning firework display outshone the costume design. Widely popular DJ Private Ryan, hovering above the crowd from the stage's upper level, also did his part to add to that grandeur with his trademark cuts and samples on pop dance music during an hour-long set following.
Tribe also delivered on décor transforming the outdoor venue into a raving club with pulsing lights and fog machines. And this time around they threw in a glittered curve ball.
Earlier, Ackin hosted a backstage limited release, media-only showing of the band's new nostalgic line: The Lost Tribe. The presentation, which challenged the band's young design team to create costumes using no feathers, was the most refreshing part of the night.
“It is said T&T has lost touch with our culture and who we are as a people. We are a lost Tribe searching for home,” Ackin said of the presentation that features not a single feather.
The influences of mas design greats Peter Minshall, Wayne Berkeley and Stephen Derek were hard to miss in the display. In 1999, Peter Minshall presented a band called The Lost Tribe.
Lead by creative director Valmiki Maharaj, with consultation from fashion designer Anya Ayoung-Chee, the experimental project, a refreshing innovation in design from the band, is the latest step in their apparent quest to corner the market. The question is would this lost Tribe, from the previously criticised “too commercial” band, now find a home in the heart of the mas purists?
Judging from Saturday's display and keeping in mind their new-found alliance with mas veterans Harts, Tribe is poised to dictate the direction of mas for the foreseeable future.
Ackin's willingness to entrust the creative to young upcoming talents like Maharaj and his 29-member design team is heartening.
It also signals the changing of the guard with the emergence of talents like Maharaj, Ayoung-Chee and Leah-Mari Guevara