A Tribe Called Red Black Box, Toronto ON, October 19

A Tribe Called Red Black Box, Toronto ON, October 19
Photo: Devin Hurd
The X Avant VIII Festival took its genre-defying mandate outside its comfort zone of chamber music and avant-jazz to explore similar cross-pollinations of music from hip-hop, dance clubs and aboriginal cultures. The contrast of this event compared to the rest of the festival signals a willingness to take large risks. A Tribe Called Red give strong voice to the theme of "This is Our Music" with a sound that dramatically expands the audience for the festival.

DJs Shub, Bear Witness and NDN deftly work the crowd using a mix of materials drawing upon their heritage as First Nations denizens from Upper/Lower Cayuga and Nipissing Anishnabe — strong beats and the detritus of entertainment media are re-appropriated to cast a harsh light on the history of aboriginal depictions in media. Their use of video loops pieced together from old Westerns, video games and Saturday morning cartoons are devastating when combined with the sophistication of A Tribe Called Red's sound.

The messages of pride and empowerment never distract from the experience out on the dance floor. A Tribe Called Red work with an inclusive sense of defiance combined with an ear for how the energy of traditional powwow dance and music fit in.