Friday, April 25, 2008

The Tribe Mentality


So Tribe has released their theme for Carnival 2k9 and it is "Birds of a Feather". As it is related to Carnival, one would automatically presume that they would be representing different types of avian species. However another interpretation can be suggested when we complete this phrase as to make the common saying.... "Birds of a feather, flock together".




Now this got me to thinking, exactly what type of birds flock together in Tribe?Some of you may think that I am a 'diehard' Tribe supporter. However you would be very incorrect to presume that. I am a diehard CARNIVAL supporter. A few years back you might have called me a 'diehard' Poison masquerader because I played mas with them for 8 years before switching to Tribe. I switched to Tribe the very first year they were their independant band (much to my diehard Poison parents' dismay) even though I had never registered in ANY of the bandleaders sections in Poison. I switched because I wanted something different to what was being offered in Poison and also because my friends were there. I actually pretty much signed up on a whim cause I happened to be in the camp with a friend and figured I might as well sign up as I was there. But even from observation, I always thought Tribe in Posion provided their masqueraders with stellar service. The last year that Tribe was in Poison, my Dad, as one of Poison's road mangers came to me and said that he had never seen such an organised section in his life. Between security, food etc , it was like they were their own band in a band. He predicted quite accurately (and even warned Posion management) that they would break away from Poison.




It was quite clear from Tribe Year 1, that Tribe was going to be, overall, a band with a much younger demographic than Poison. If there was anybody over 40 years that first year ,they were few and far in between. With its increased popularity, the Tribe demographic widened astronomically. Now I see my friends' parents (cause my parents are now Pulse 8 ppl) in the band along with every government minister and the old boy he self, President Richards (another former Poison stalwart). Now the reason I stuck with Tribe instead of tacking back by Poison is because their service was indeed stellar, the costumes sexier, the all inclusive band concept still unique and their entire operation was technologically advanced. I was most shocked at Year two to see people looking to riot outside the mascamp for costume. Which begs the question, why did people 'flock' to Tribe in the first place? I would love to know the reasons that people chose to make Tribe their band of choice. Is it that just that the word got around that Tribe was 'the' place to be for our generation?




I would be just as interested to know why some people chose to leave. I was filled with joy when Island People got into the game because I thought to myself, "A set of ppl will say that is the new 'hot band' and jump ship and ease up the crowd in Tribe". So said , so done.It is still very ironic to me that Tribe seems to have come almost full circle to where they started. This year I felt very much like the ghost of Posion had come to haunt us with the masses of ppl on the road and the costume foul ups. This is one of the very reasons that Tribe defected in the first place, with the good intentions to be a party on the road as compared to a mob. As I said , we are seeing the same older and much younger age group of ppl now that were not there before in Tribe but were in Poison.The service level is dropping, the costumes now start to get iffy and the registration is a bacchanal.The only thing that distinguishes Tribe from the Poison of lore is the fact that its still all inclusive (and maybe not for long at that).


To be fair,I never opted to go with Island people simply because 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'. I had no problems with Tribe so I stuck with it even though IP costumes also appealed to me. In hindsight I was glad I did when I heard of the issues that they have had over the years.




But back to the birds of a feather.... without a doubt most of the people I know play in Tribe. Its the same people I see in all the parties and events that I go to.The very name Tribe connotates a group of individuals with the same backgorund. I would be circumventing the issue if I were not to mention that Tribe is generally categorised by the public as a 'middle class' to 'upper class band' which contains predominantly lighter complexions with a large population from the Eastern hemisphere.( Who else could afford those sky high prices). So is it not possible that we have all been playing in Tribe and continue playing in Tribe (even when they do shit) more because all the people who went to our 'prestige' school play in Tribe, all the people we work with in our professional position play in Tribe , our local celebrities and officials play in Tribe and not because of what 'Tribe the Band' has to offer? That maybe, just maybe,we play because everyone else who is like us plays there?




Herein lies the appeal of 'new' bands like ELEMENTS. Now shall I play devils' advocate? We had another 'new' band last year called Evolution which was pegged by some to be the next 'hot' band. I know a few of the people involved in the band. However,I personally know only 1 person that played in costume with Evolution and she not even what I would call an acquaintance. Just somebody I bounce up a time. In general, even though Evolution had some good names behind it, none of them ever had a significant role in Tribe and the band did very little to put a dent in the behemoth Tribe. This year ,we have Elements which is produced by former Tribe designers. In addition many of their section leaders are past Tribe masqueraders or Harts 'die hards.' Considering this, will Elements be able to unsettle or even overturn the behemoth simply because BIRDS OF A FEATHER ,FLOCK TOGETHER? Will the birds migrate now that some leaders of the flock have already done so? From the introduction party on Tuesday, I was really not suprised to see many long standing Tribe masqueraders in Elements T-shirts. There were also many boisterous supporters without Tshirts. It seems to me that some people have already pledged their allegiance to the new band based on people they know involved and not because of the costumes or package being offered as this is yet to be revealed.




Personally, I can only make a comparison between the two bands once the information is available to hold them up side by side. I am not as inclined to jump ship ,at this point ,to Elements as I was when I jumped ship from Poison to Tribe. I think it is because I do not believe that Tribe has reached to the point where it is beyond repair which I believe Poison almost certainly did. I still have faith that because of their performance history Tribe can correct their shortcomings once they acknowledge and address the problems.(Cause the first step is admitting you have a problem). This was Poison's downfall....they were more interested in numbers than the masquerader experience. Tribe is moving dangerously close to that cliff. Its a waste of time to comment on Elements cause nothing in their modus operandi is as yet forthcoming to warrant such.

15 comments:

saucydiva said...

Very good piece you wrote here!!

I will give you my reasons for going with the TRIBE the first year they left Poison and it was very much a similar experience to yours,I signed up on a whim. It was during planning for my wedding, so I had no thought of Carnival on my mind, vaguely remembered they launched an en route to a next destination passed by the mas camp, saw some sections were already sold out and signed up right on the spot!

I never played with TRIBE in Poison, my Poison experience was limited to two years actually.

Before that I played with Harts, before that Barbarossa for a short time. The whole crew defected from Harts and decided to try Poison, they played with Pleasures' section while another friend and I decided to go with my friend's section because we were getting the costume almost free! Big mistake, had a horrid time. Second time we played with Sonia Mack and it was much better.

But our other friends in this section Pleasures had kept on raving about how GREAT their time was and showed off their Fab goody bag etc. So they pretty much sold the idea of the band when they informed us that that they were leaving to go with TRIBE. What also sold me was the fact that the entire band would be all inclusive, I liked their costumes,they stopped for lunch and I will admit the demographic of the band because it was where I knew all my friends were playing.

I too am not swayed by Element,simply because they have not produced anything that I can make a decision on, but frankly it will take a lot to get me to switch at this point. I no longer need all my friends to be playing mas with me, but I will play with a band where I feel like part of the "tribe" so to speak.... maybe that is the problem with Element on this stage, I surely do not identify with the Littlepages and Laughlins!LMAO

flash said...

Every year Tribe says it going to downsize but the band gets bigger. I think they just say this to create demand and hype. Even if they downsize next year from 7,500 to 6,000, I am sure that they will raise the price to compensate in loss revenue. Did you notice that Tribe did not give a figure to what they are downsizing to. I think that they should be downsizing to 3,500 and also do not increase price. There's sufficient room for another band especially since tribe says that they downsizing. The question is where is the uptown crowd playing. Most of them played in tribe in its first 2 years. They have now lost that crowd and that crowd is looking for a new nest. Are they going to flock to Elements now? Time will tell!

Carnival Jumbie said...

True saucy, although I never registerd in the section (cause of my Poison perks)but my friends did and I always jumped alongside them in the band and got the rave reviews.
Flash I agree, its all relative. The band has almost doubled in size over the years. It all comes down to how much money they feel they need to make. It seems that greed has become a factor in the sense that they may not be content with making $1mil PROFIT when they can make $2mil.
It pains me to think that about 2 years ago I had a substantial discussion with one of the managers of Tribe regarding my anxiety for registration and getting in my section.In that convo he told me that the reason he does this is because he loves Carnival, not to make money because he would much rather be on the road playing than working. I don't know if some of them still have that sentiment where they simply want ppl to just have a good time and not profit from it.

I think ppl are reaching their limit with the costumes price as it is. I personally cannot afford much more than it is now.And sorry Sauce, frig dat frontline!They may argue inflation but my salary certainly not inflating although everything else is.

bandwagonist said...

well written and insightful... i especially like the paragraph that starts... The very name Tribe connotates a group of individuals with the same background.

I think that may well be one of the issues... I've seen TRIBE rise from section to XtraLarge band and this split is just others wanting to express themselves differently...

people will play associate with those they feel comfortable... its about the need to belong... Mas or no Mas... both bands will have their following and everyone will have a different reason...

you closed the post very well... as i said very insightful... the 'Elements' will always be here with us... good or bad

flash said...

Saucy if I was you I would stay in Tribe to. If they bigging up my picture in their carnival magazine like how tribe bigging up yours I ain't moving anywhere. Yuh dam right. Maybe if yuh come in my band, IPM, they might big yuh up to.

saucydiva said...

Buh how I could play with IP and they doh have a magazine :P

flash said...

IP really lapsing, no magazine yet? Well then they will big yuh up in de sound system then "Saucy in the de house".

S said...

Well-written CarnivalJumbie. I enjoyed reading your article. Thanks for that.

But birds of a feather do flock together, and I think that that applies to all bands. It is human nature to flock towards what you are comfortable with. You may try something new sometimes (these will be the outliers ...lol), but eventually, you settle with what you like, be it organization, costumes, price, vibe, style, the DJs, or other people that look like you.

All in all, every band is a tribe of sorts. Most of the members, if not all, agreed on something about their band of choice.

JJ said...

well written. thanks for the good read. :D

HQ said...

Good piece! I have to agree...it is more about the masqueraders than the band. As a overseas masquerader, I can tell you that Tribe is a rallying call in a lot of the fetes....people always shoulting out Tribe and IP and it very much is an identifier over here. I definitely let my guard down when I run into someone who played with Tribe, and you're right...it's as much based in socio-economic comfort than anything else.

This was my first year in Tribe though, and having played with other bands I can say you do get more from the Tribe experience. The costume was extremely well made...and I still have my Tribe backpack! LOL

HQ said...

Good piece! I have to agree...it is more about the masqueraders than the band. As a overseas masquerader, I can tell you that Tribe is a rallying call in a lot of the fetes....people always shoulting out Tribe and IP and it very much is an identifier over here. I definitely let my guard down when I run into someone who played with Tribe, and you're right...it's as much based in socio-economic comfort than anything else.

This was my first year in Tribe though, and having played with other bands I can say you do get more from the Tribe experience. The costume was extremely well made...and I still have my Tribe backpack! LOL

Anonymous said...

blatant honesty:

i am a half-white half-indian boy. alwyas played with harts for years and years. never contemplated switching. why? because birds of a feather flock together.

in 2008 i tried tribe. i am a 'professional'. many of the other 'professionals' in my office were diehard TRIBERS and convinced me to try it. i did and i liked it. still had the wistful harts tabanca, but overall had a ball in tribe.

now there's elements. if my crew migrate there, i'm more than likely going to follow suit. from what i've seen of the crowd it's 'my kind' of people, and that's not being discriminatory in any way, but it looks like i will be very very comfortable in that band.

so who knows what will happen in 2009? will it be tribe? will it be elements? or will i go back home to harts?


birds of a feather do flock together.

Michaela said...

I have to say that your article was written extremely well and I enjoyed reading it.

Birds of a feather do flock together. It is human nature (and obviously avian as well).

I played with Legends, Barbarossa and Poison (up until the end), Tribe, IP and then back to Tribe. I enjoyed my mas in Tribe to a point but I didn't enjoy it enough to completely rule out other bands.

My issue with many on blogs is the mentality of loyalty. What is it that Tribe or any other band is giving people that despite not seeing thier costumes allegiances have been pledged? Unless you are best friends with Dean and company, I cannot understand devotion of this nature.

I am not pointing an accustory finger at anyone but I know people who have never played with any other band in thier life other than Tribe, have nothing to compare thier experience to and refuse to even discuss other bands. As a regular masquerader and a consumer, this sort of behavior is beyond my comprehension.

I won't even touch on the people who does verbally assassinate bands who haven't even had thier first year on the road yet as if they are Tribe employees.

While everyone has a right to thier opinion and a choice of who to play mas with must we be so vicious when it comes to the efforts of others? Bigging up your band choice does not mean putting down others.

Lady said...

Good article very interesting and thought provoking.

Yes Birds of a feather do flock together. You were also right when you said that some people play in Tribe because the ppl they went to school with plays there, all the government ministers and our partying President. So I quote..." The very name Tribe connotates a group of individuals with the same background."


But it also highlights the fact that many masqueraders simply play with a certain band because they want to belong/be affiliated with that entity or a certain class of ppl and lifestyle. Its like wearing VERSACE or FENDI.

So because of our mentality, when we place a certain prestige on a product/service many ppl who aspire to belong to this class or group you mentioned would be rioting to play mas with Tribe. But then again the Oxford dictionary states that a "'Tribe'-n. (is) a social group in a traditional society consisting of linked families or communities sharing customs and beliefs."

So birds of a feather do flock together, wasn't this the intention in the first place? and as you lamented "Tribe is generally categorised by the public as a 'middle class' to 'upper class band' which contains predominantly lighter complexions with a large population from the Eastern hemisphere.( Who else could afford those sky high prices)."

Hmmmmmmmmm......
is that to say ppl or other social groups can not afford to play with Tribe and by extension is not worthy?

A. said...

What can I say? You are correct...as were Lady and Anonymous. That’s just the way it is.

I'll be blunt: I am from a wealthy family, but I was raised by parents who taught me to make friends and be friendly with as many diverse people as possible, and I believe I have done so. However, quite honestly, I have found that unless they were from a similar socio-economic circle, there were usually too many dissimilarities to consider most people that I met really close friends. We'd be friendly, we'd be cool... but somehow we never really truly got each other.

I have played mas in many bands around POS since the early 90's (except for maybe Revelers, McFarlane and one or two newer bands) with various groups of friends, and I have to say that I preferred the years I played where I MOST fit in. For me those were the years I played with Harts, and also Tribe their first two years. In 2009 though I'm definitely back with Harts; cause you're right: birds of a feather...

Great blog BTW.