Dubtribe casts a LOVE spell on Casselman's, 2/26/11
|Photo by Uriah West|
They moved in, out and between several of Dubtribe's best tracks -- opening up, Sunshine growled spoken-word poetry (a combination of "Holler" and "So Much Love") over gorgeous, jazzy, tribal beats. It's easy to see why Dubtribe has made such a name for itself as a live act -- the recorded sessions are excellent, but you really have to see Sunshine and Moonbeam high-fiving each other (and the crowd), beaming at one another while urging the crowd to ever-higher heights with the music and the lyrics speaking of social justice, peace, love and unity. Candles burned around the equipment and the crowd went into a frenzy trying to keep up with the tribal rhythms and frenetic energy.
"I think the drummers got stoned too early in the night," Sunshine roared into the microphone, grabbing a drum to show how it was done while the temporarily instrument-less drummer danced purposefully on the stage. One of the most impressive things about this set was the live mixing. Many livetronica acts fade in and out between tracks, which isn't easy, but this level of moving from place-to-place -- neither the drummers nor Sunshine and Moonbeam ever missed a beat, seamlessly mixing from one track to the next -- is rarely seen in the livetronica world.
They moved into the crowd-pleasing "Wednesday Night," and right at a crescendo, dropped from this free-wheeling tribal number into true dub, Black Uhuru's "Leaving for Zion." The group effortlessly slipped into this dub track, and the crowd followed along, grooving to the slower tempo and eerie sounds, before Dubtribe slipped straight back into "Wednesday Night." They played other favorites from the bestselling Bryant Street, as well -- "No Puedo Estar Despierto" and "Samba Dub" after "Wednesday Night," Sunshine's signature voice bringing everyone in the building to sing along with his heartfelt, "Lord have mercy on my soul." "Samba Dub" faded into a drum solo, prompting Sunshine to exclaim, "This is some furious shit right here!"
Not only is Dubtribe skilled at actual dub sounds, but they also broke out a couple of live breakbeat tracks toward the end of the set, from a quasi-ambient number with tribal drums and distorted chirps to a darker, dirtier breaks set, reminiscent of the Prodigy's earlier work. As Sunshine implored us through his spoken-word poetry to take the planet back, the lights started to come up. "It's going to take all your love and more if you want to make a difference in this world," he rumbled, while Casselman's staff attempted (futilely) to disperse the crowd and get us moving out the door. Dubtribe played until the lights came all the way up and the sound was turned off at 2 a.m., and Sunshine Jones reiterated his love for the crowd, the people and the scene, gesturing with hands and heart before the crew began to pack up the stage and the audience dispersed slowly, moving toward the after-party.
Personal Bias: I like house music. I like Doc Martin. I effing ADORE Dubtribe. Their set last night is now in my top-five all-time musical experiences ever; I haven't danced that hard in years.
By The Way: A big shout-out to the person (he knows who he is) who got Casselman's to turn off the overhead/Christmas lights before Doc Martin hit the stage -- the party went from feeling like an overlit high-school dance to an actual party.
Random Detail: The LED heart hanging above the stage was custom-built for this show.