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Op-Ed: A Tribe Called Red make their Pan Am Games debut (Includes first-hand account)

Pan-Am staff in charge of booking the Panamanian stage’s musicians were faced with the challenge of choosing music that gives visitors from outside of Canada a taste of Canada’s cultural identity, while appealing to a immense range of people — but A Tribe Called Red were a perfect contribution to Pan Am’s patriotic atmosphere. A Tribe Called Red brought a youthful, celebratory flare to the Pan-Am atmosphere, while encouraging patriotic sports fans to healthily shake off the buzz of going to sports event to cheer on athletes considered to be the best at what they do, within the country that they’re representing.

A Tribe Called Red are a group of Aboriginal Canadians who bring the tribal customs that their ancestors practiced for several generations to their music, while incorporating electronica, pop culture, and hip-hop influences. The heart-thumping beats and the eclectic sound clips used in A Tribe Called Red’s music brings Aboriginal Canadian culture and history into a 21st century context.

A Tribe Called Red’s performance was extremely hypnotic thanks to the colourful, flashing imagery that popped up on screen, behind the performers of Native Americans and Canadians in movies, video games, and TV shows throughout history. The performance’s background imagery perfectly complimented the overall performance. Both the background imagery and the music reeled in the audience through their surface sounds, textures, and sensations, while focusing on social issues that are commonplace in the Aboriginal community that’s still facing the leftover legacy of the Residential Schools’ era.

Both the sound and the imagery of the average A Tribe Called Red performance is part social critique on what’s going on and what’s already happened in North American Aboriginal culture, and part pride in everything that makes it unique. Although there’s a tinge of anger in A Tribe Called Red’s music, this anger is a war cry for maintaining cultural pride despite the judgement or interference of people and circumstances that dare to challenge and prevent these beliefs from continuing to be part of a group, or an individual’s everyday life.

A Tribe Called Red’s Pan Am performance was an atmosphere where the audience was not only encouraged to dance, move their feet, and scream as loud as they can; it also encouraged people to be proud and celebrate who they are, while constantly reminding the audience that they are in a country where its inhabitants, or at the very least their ancestors, either have Aboriginal roots or are from somewhere else besides Canada. A Tribe Called Red successfully united the masses; their performance was one big, high-energy party, where everybody, no matter who they are, and where they come from, danced to the music together.

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