How far can you stretch your horizon in the name of having fun? The answer may different from one person to another, depending on the subject we’re discussing. But if you ask the circle of ultimately gifted friends, you can get the most extreme answer, even exceeding your expectations. This is the thing that crossed our mind when we attended a very special (and rare) concert in Jakarta last Tuesday (March 12, 2013). Took place at Rolling Stone Cafe, brought by Beyond Productions, the legendary supergroup TRIBAL TECH presented the extreme way of it. Imagine four music gods redefined the way of playing music by presenting something above all genres. All hell broke loose, heaven flipped upside down. If we usually see the magic of jamming through set of jazz standards, these guys showed you that they can have the most fun jamming in a whole new dimension. Rock, blues, funk, you name it, they got it. They can go soft, but in many times they are abusive with the instruments. But what’s funny is instead of getting something destructive, we got a high level of playing with unlimited stock of energy wrapped with out-of-the-world’s spirits. If you’re a fan of Tribal Tech, you should dig these descriptions. But if you haven’t heard them yet, you should see to believe. No, they are not trying to make everything to be difficult. We’re sure that it never even crossed their mind. But you have to understand this: for a group of four experienced guys attached with solid chemistry and backed by the unbelievable skills, who knows what can happen.
What a chance for us to see them in a live concert in Indonesia, especially since this ‘fearless’ group doesn’t really go on tour that often. Thanks to Beyond Productions, Jakarta became one of the destinations of their World Tour for promoting their latest album “X”, released in 2012. Tribal Tech played every day without any break in some Asian countries, then finally they could have some rest in Jakarta before this concert began.
There are many reasons why we take this joint as a groundbreaking group. First of all, look at the players currently standing inside: Scott Henderson (guitar), Gary Willis (bass), Scott Kinsey (keyboards) and Kirk Covington (drums). Each of them are venomous, and these are probably the Tribal Tech most people remember. Together this union have been in a journey together for more than a decade and set a new basis of doing their music.
Tribal Tech actually started almost 30 years ago by Henderson and Willis. Different than the path they are taking right now, this band actually started as a kind of acoustic band, using acoustic piano and occasionally Fender Rhodes. Since at that time synthesizer was still kind of a new thing, when they started using synthesizers, they felt like mixing the old and new thingies. That’s where the name Tribal Tech came from. It didn’t take long for them to get more into sense, then Scott Kinsey joined the band and added some Weather Reports’ sound in it. The magical combination were found, the rest is history.
9 albums were made around 16 years, filled with progressive fusion with injections of jazz, blues, rock and funk. But since Willis then moved to Spain, the band was put to sleep. But two years ago when we interviewed Scott Henderson, he personally told us that the band was about to return. (Read the interview here: http://jazzuality.com/interview/exclusive-interview-with-scott-henderson/). Scott explained that in just about four days during Willis’ visit to US, without bringing any set list of arrangement, they did the basic tracks in a studio in Los Angeles and came out with around 30 good stuff jams, ten of which were selected to appear in their latest tenth album entitled “X”. This comeback album received praises everywhere, both from critics and fans’ comments. Most of the fans claimed this latest work as their best album ever, they are back, better and badder than ever and now we got the chance to see them in live performance. What a lucky chance!
Just as we predicted, this concert appeared like musicians’ gathering. Among the audience we saw TOhpati, Gugun, Indro Hardjodikoro, Krishna Siregar, Kristian Dharma, Tompi, Franky Sadikin, Stefan Thiele, Zoltan Renaldi and the young girl drummer Jeane Phialsa just to mention a few.
It was a brilliant choice to bring Ligro as the opening, since this group can always represent the madness within its music. The absurd sounds were heard before guitarist Agam Hamzah, bassist Adi Darmawan and drummer Gusti Hendy came in. The bridge of jazz, rock, avant-garde quickly knocked everyone’s head without mercy.
The first song they dropped was “Bliker 1”. Bliker is a Madurese language means gravel. Agam and Adi constantly walked their music towards the darker side, layered by Hendy’s powerful rsponse. This drummer who’s also known as the personnel of GIGI changed his tom-tom and floor tom with gondang, the traditional percussion found in Batak tribe’s traditional music, He played from slow to fast in random sequence, resulting one epical opening. The trio gave even more adrenaline pumping with “20th Century Collage”, a speeding track with thick blues pattern and syncopative action.
Then came the horror as the stage suddenly became the ‘crime scene’ when “Bliker 3” was played. The audience who expected a blasting climax after the lighting speed part of the song got shocked by the twist. Adi Darmawan brought many dangerous objects like nails, woodenblock, iron plate, spatula, hammer and so on, the tools that serial killers could use in torturing their prey. All of a sudden Adi became a ‘music slasher’ by using all these objects to create eerie sounds that we are not used to hear in songs. It was shocking, brutal and quite scary, but the dramatic ending of this song finally guided the audience to a safe place. Huge applause and cheers were given to them.
Once again Ligro proved their unique ability to create such different scene in jazz world. This is what attracts MoonJune Records to distribute their album internationally. Ligro is the kind of band who can be surprising when landed everywhere around the globe. Bringing the deep, dark corner of jazz which rarely visited, this dare-devil trio invites everyone to ride on their crazy roller-coaster ride. Another great moment of Ligro well captured.
Then moment for watching the main event finally came. After such madness from Ligro, the crew came setting the stage up for Tribal Tech to unleash their demons in one fiery, nonstop action. Scott Henderson, Scott Kinsey and Gary Willis walked to the stage under loud cheers. But it was only three of them, where’s the other one? Even Gary Willis didn’t know where Kirk Covington was and asked, “Where’s Kirk?” One crew from behind then shouted “He got to pee!” This brought laughs from the audience. Then Kirk showed up along with his cheerful personality, he directly banged his drumset hard, and the group was set to go.
“Nite Club” became the first song from Tribal Tech. This funky song which can be found in the “Reality Check” album forced people to move their body happily. It got hotter when Henderson roared wild with his guitar. This great opening followed by “Signal Path” which changed the course into a smoother side. This song ended as a high-tense upbeat song. A lot of jaws dropped in sheer ecstasy.
The soft sound from Gary Willis’ bass became the sign for us to enjoy their latest works from “X”. Starting with “Anthem”, the sound produced by Willis’ fretless bass brought peace to our hearts. All of the bassists inside the Rolling stone Cafe who came to see his legendary reputation got everything paid off. Then the group delivered “Got Faith n Phat.” In this highly funky song, Kirk tortured his drums in a very attractive way. Henderson and Kinsey connected and ‘communicate’ to each other by using their instruments, what a scene for us to see and learn. Next came “Palm Moon Plaza”, a sentimental but tense song. Henderson poured his emotion out over his guitar along with mellow tunes from Kinsey’s keyboard. These songs contained in “X” really brought us to feel the new Tribal Tech without stepping the essential sound of the band aside.
One of the most popular songs of Tribal Tech, “Canine” was brought only by trio, Henderson, Willis and Covington. At first nobody realized that it was “Canine” because they actually started this song with swing, but then when they found out, the whole room blasted with cheers. In this song Covinton showed that he could play in no matter style, hence we got the different side of him at this point.
Then Henderson went down the stage by turns with Kinsey. The seventh song “Essaquira” gave a whole different ambience by presenting African musical nuance. The crowds got another surprise when Kinsey took the mike and spelled some mantras. Kinsey made his voice painted by synth effects in creating the African image in sound. The eighth song was “Boat Gig” from “Face First” album. This track which is coated with thick traditional blues style was served cheerful and playful. We noticed many heads bobbed during the play.
While three of them took some rest, apparently Kirk still had lots of energy left. He ran a hot solo drums on stage. His expression was like a kid enjoying toys given by parents, all the joy and innocent happiness flashed throughout his session.
“Foreign Affair” from the album “Reality Check” became the last official song in Jakarta. As the audience knew that it was the last bite, they shouted in every solo runs. The audience didn’t want the show to go over so soon, so the “we want more” chants were given by them. Tribal Tech answered the request by giving one encore, it was their another hit, the title track of “Face First”. This song brought a mixed feeling. It was a wonderful climax, we were happy to watch their gig, but we still wanted for more eventhough Tribal Tech has played for no less than one and a half hours. Loud applause were given in full respect to the band. The whole Tribal Tech members gave their big thanks both to the crowds and to Chico Hindarto and the whole Beyond Productions’ team.
Tribal Tech is the kind of band who’s not only great in cooking up their music, they also inspire many bands from different genres and musical backgrounds. We could see that too by looking at the guests who came. Scott Henderson, Gary Willis, Scott Kinsey and Kirk Covington once again proved themselves as daring stuntmen of sounds. They have reached higher level by creating new innovation both in tone and harmony. Just as what you experience in their albums, here in this concert we digged their unpredictable twist of progressive blues, funkin’ rock, mad-driven experimental sound and everything else in between.
Thank you Tribal Tech for the unbelievable jamming madness you brought tonight, also kudos to Beyond Productions for bringing them here. We hope this won’t be the last time for them to come. Speaking of the full octane action, you can find it not only in movies, but now you know that it’s also available on live jazz stage. Tribal Tech, safe flight back home, don’t forget to come here again soon.
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