Live Review: Tribes at Independent [21 May 2011]

on Friday, May 27, 2011
Tribes live at Independent, Sunderland (21st May '11) // Words: Emily Solan

Whilst it may not be known for its burgeoning live scene (yeah we may have The Futureheads, Frankie & The Heartstrings and Field Music, but very little else) but Sunderland was the scene of Tribes’ first headline gig outside of London. Bold choice there, and it didn’t quite pay off, as they played to a room full of less than 30 people.

First support Black Goose, a solo singer/songwriter with a guitar, seems out of place with the headline act but all is revealed when we learn that he only learnt of the gig 3 hours ago. While his songs we’re on the whole more than a little twee, and not to my particular liking, the musical vein he sits in is very much in vogue at the minute.

Second support of the night were more what I expected with a band like Tribes, but Gallery Circus also fell flat for me. Whether it was the lack of atmosphere in the overly large venue, or the running joke that I can’t abide a single support act, something was missing. At times they felt like a mix between the sweeter moments of The Maccabees, if played with the ferocity of Muse (not to add Matt Bellamy’s falsettos).

Admittedly, I was won over slightly with their final song 'Hands Up For The Hipsters', a sort of hipster version of The Cribs’ 'Hey Scenesters', name checking Wicker Park and Pabst Blue Ribbon. It wasn’t quite up to the Jarman brothers’ standards though.

The headliners of the night didn’t disappoint. Not disheartened by the small turnout, and seemingly grateful for those that did bother, Tribes’s anthemic grunge (is there even such a thing?) won over the select few. Scattering EP tracks with those early demos that I first heard on MySpace (yes it does still exist, as hard as that is to believe), two tracks stood out for me tonight.

The brooding, swooping 'Sappho', so seemingly full of love and understanding, set me off remembering the first time I ever heard the band, when picked as Doctor Who’s favourite new band on Radio 1 around this time last year. And of course the other standout track of the night was the final, lead track from the new EP 'We Were Children' - which combines all the required elements of a summertime hit.

'We Were Children' has the perfect balance between grunge and Americana that combined with a beautiful summer and a festival atmosphere will make one of the doubtless many songs of the summer. Which will make these 22 or so people that ventured out tonight feel very smug in a couple of months.

STREAM: Sappho (demo) by TRIBES

The 'We Were Children' EP will be out in June. More info at

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