Fears that rock was dying in a sea of middle-class moody folk-rock, peddled by bearded vegans in comfortable jumpers and smart shirts, were abated when The Vaccines released their debut album earlier in the year. Now, with the arrival of Tribes, it seems those fears can be laid to rest.
Coming from the shabby-chic Camden rock scene, and with stories of hedonistic excess that are all too lacking in modern music, expectations were high in The Ruby Lounge. The crowd was in force, throwing back beer and cider, ready to party and go wild on all-hallows-eve. The atmosphere was filled with that excitement you get when witnessing a new band on the rise. The crowd heaved and swayed, bounced and leapt as they belted out great anthemic tunes such as “Girlfriend”, “Sappho”, and “When My Day Comes”. Arms were outstretched with imaginary lighters for the more melancholic, nostalgic songs like “We Were Children” and “Coming of Age”. Some of the crowd were fans. Others had just picked up on some buzz or rumour in the great ether. But by the end of the night few were in doubt of Tribes’ credentials.
Parallels have been drawn between Tribes and the likes of The Pixies, Nirvana and, more loosely, The Smashing Pumpkins. There’s certainly an early/mid 90s verve and charge about Tribes’ style. With distorted, driving bass and guitar riffs, overcut with high-flying melodies, the whole sound puts you in mind of wild summer afternoons with loud music, high spirits, and free-flowing cider.
Tribes are by no means groundbreaking. They’re a great, up-tempo, entertaining band. They show promise, put on a good show and connect with the crowd. When tickets for the huge, outdoor Stone Roses gig sold out in less than 15 minutes earlier this year, it showed that there is still a real passion out there for guitar bands, but that there was a lack of current acts to meet that demand. What Tribes are showing is that is no longer the case.
In a down-beat era of doom and financial disaster. Of war and destruction. Of dreary nanny states and dreary music, people want and need, fun, excitement, hedonism and release. And its bands like Tribes that can give it to us.