14 Dec 2018
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Tribal State - Gig Review: Tribal State @ Kings Arms, Auckland - 28/07/2017

29 Jul 2017 // A review by Sarah Sampson

It was a cold, wet night, my nose was running and I couldn’t stop sneezing and coughing. I wasn’t feeling up to going out on such a miserable night but I’m more than happy that I did. Tribal State was the second band to play my first gig that I ran in February of 2010 and the vocalist Levi and his partner Tiakina were two of my best friends I met while studying at MAINZ the year before. Tribal State have had a special place in my heart for a very long time and many of their past managers have also been very close friends of mine, Tribal State are part of my musical family so when they asked me to review their next show I jumped at the chance, despite being sick, I went and was blown away!

The night started low key with a comedian. He admitted he hadn’t been on stage in a few years and his nerves were obvious and it didn’t help that some of his jokes fell into an empty void with no laughter but he kept trying and eventually built up some form of rapport with the audience talking about Trump and American politics. Soon the crowd warmed up to him and there was a lot of banter and more laughter by the time he had finished.

The first musical act of the night was Love Objex featuring MC Sweaty Brix on the mic they played a very short 3 song set. Watching them I’m glad I have a musical history of classical music because it’s given me an appreciation for a lot of genres, not just Rock and Heavy Metal. It’s always hard to go first (I know I’ve been the support act before too), especially being an opening act before a band that hadn’t played in years. Love Objex would be described as a live Drum n Bass outfit with a drummer and guitarist/bassist (he swapped instrument in different songs) with two DJ’s who also did gang vocals and then the MC on the mic. I really liked their first song it was a dirty ska, funk reggae type vibe and it reminded me of my days when I studied at MAINZ and all of my friends were from different musical backgrounds so every time we went out or met up the musical background was very different. I had a quick walk around between their first and second songs (as one of the DJ’s couldn’t find the backing track on his Mac so it was a long gap in the set) and there was a lot of people outside – although they could have been doing what I was doing too. There’s only one critique of the act I would offer and that is their lack of movement during the 2nd and 3rd songs. It could have been because they lost their nerve after loosing the song on the laptop but the 2nd song was about smoking weed and fun times but the group just stood there and didn’t move. I think the crowd would have been a lot more into it too if the band moved like they did in the first song.

Finally it was Tribal State's turn! From the first song the crowd was moving and dancing and jumping and had moved almost to the front (there was only about a meter gap) and during their first song I was instantly transported in my mind to when I had first seen them on stage at the Kings Arms with the show I put on, it was summer so it was still light outside when they played and people were standing outside watching them, a few around the bar and back but last night, 7 years later, they had almost 200 (could have been more) people eating out of their hands! I also LOVED the new addition to the band – live percussion which added to their ‘island sound’. I remember when Levi asked if his new band could play my first gig and I asked what genre they were and he said oh you might not like us, we aren’t very brutal… imagine a heavy rock band Samoan styles… and that is exactly what they are. Funk, soul, heavy rock, rock n roll with a beautiful, tasty island style twist. 

Tribal State are Levi (lead vocals/lead guitar), Bush (acoustic rhythm guitar and backing vocals/harmonies), Jason (lead guitar and backing vocals/harmonies), Bob (bass) and Cam (drums and backing vocals/harmonies) and their newest member Egor (percussion).

You can tell with their vocals that they learned to sing in church especially with their vocal harmonies which are very cleverly done. The same can be said for how their guitars play together, the four vocals and three guitars blend together to create the perfect blend of whatever style they are playing at the time, whether its call and response style, which is very common in Samoan Popular songs or the more powerful, raw rock. 

Tribal State played my favourite songs of theirs last night Java’s Story being the first one that hooked me in with the lines ‘I wish I could live, where I’m happy and free, I wish I could live in my own fantasy’ and the first time I heard that I thought why can’t we all live like that? Having talked to Levi about it, it’s about a person who has multiple near death experiences and then wakes up each time with a different perspective on life. Very deep and meaningful song. The other song I love of theirs is Long Way From Home which is another classic. I hadn’t heard these songs in four years so it was magical to reconnect and go on that musical journey and trip down memory lane with Tribal State at the helm. Most of their set I hadn’t seen last night and many of their newer songs are way more melodic and mellow than their earlier rockier songs. Often I find my thoughts running away and feel bored when there’s a lot of quiet slow songs but that didn’t happen with Tribal State at all. In fact I only stood back for their first two songs then I couldn’t hold myself back anymore and had to jump up the front for a dance. I loved all of their new songs but there was one new one I felt was pure musical genius called If We Could and there is a section where Levi whistles instead of sings with the three backing vocals harmonizing together with the percussionist and bass it was the definition of absolute sonic harmony. 

Tribal State will be a band name a lot of people in the rock and heavier scenes haven’t heard purely because they haven’t played in a long time as the members have all been pursuing solo work but last night showed that Tribal State are indeed back and are taking prisoners where ever they go. Do yourselves a favour and get out and see them when they next play. This is a New Zealand rock band with their own style and it works! There are a lot of bands with a generic ‘rock’ genre and Tribal State is definitely not one of them. You will not forget a Tribal State performance anytime soon, they are back and they mean business! Follow their Facebook page for more updates because now they are back playing live they intend to keep pushing forward!

 

About Tribal State

These Auckland based musicians prefer the sound of ignorance and instincts when it comes to their creation. Seven years existence in the NZ Rock scene without any real influence of past or modern music trends but they did grow up in the 90's. Their lyrics share their life experiences instigating self-awareness and self-development delivered through outstanding melodies and harmonies from all the band members. After all, they are islanders. It’s either heavy from Levi’s distortion obsession or it’s soothing from Bush’s acoustic guitar; Cam and Jay lock in to dynamics through drums and bass like a monogamous couple on their 70th wedding anniversary. “When the ‘feel good’ vibe completes its circuit within the four, then it must be exceptional.”

Battle of the Bands, NZ says: “Tribal State from Auckland performed a tight, melodic set of well crafted rock songs, with superb vocal harmonies, musicianship and song arrangements.”

Tribal State launched a digital version of their self titled album online, giving way for the fans to purchase the much anticipated album. You can download the album on iTunes and listen to it on Spotify.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Tribal State

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