Worcester Telegram Datebook
January 23, 1994

Nightwatch - By Scott McLennan

Boston's Tribe fares better than the supercollider

The Tribe [sic], Curtain Society
When: 9:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Bowlers, 104 Prescott St. Worcester
How Much: $7 in advance, $8 at the door

Some bands develop legendary followings. Look at the legions of Deadheads loyal to the Grateful Dead. And who can forget the Kiss Army?

But Tribe tapped into a new rock'n'roll reservoir with its song "Supercollider," named after the giant atom-smasher being build in Texas until the federal government pulled the project's money last year.

Scientists working on the project dug the band and the song and began flooding Tribe with messages at it's E-mail address. The band's computer correspondence line is listed along with a more traditional fan-club post office box on Tribe's "Sleeper" album released last year.

Janet LaValley, singer for Tribe said a crowning moment in a busy year was going down to the ill-fated supercollider to shoot a video for the song in October. "Shortly after we made the video, the funding was cut. But we got to tour the facility and the scientists working there were big fans," LaValley said.

Hard to Peg

Just another quirky element to a band that has always been hard to peg.

Tribe never did fit comfortably into the "Boston sound." Sure, the band still commands a loyal following in it's hometown, but on the road Tribe's roots do little to help get a handle on its sound.

The same can be said for Aerosmith, J. Geils Band, Boston, or The Cars. Even though each of those bands has a sound distinct from others, they all have that intangible quality that smacks of Beantown. It's sort of a collision of learnedness and leather jackets.

In its seven-year history, Tribe has absorbed the Boston sound's passion for unbridled guitars. But in lyric; presentation and presence, Tribe separated itself from the pack. LaValley, keyboard player Terri Barous, guitarist Eric Brosius and bass player Greg LoPicoolo settled on a more ambient mix that shifts back and forth between light and dark hues. At its best, Tribe makes the listener feel a song before understanding its meaning. "Here at the Home," Daddy's Home," and "Joyride" had that effect and quickly became cult hits.

On "Sleeper," its second full-length release on Slash Warner Bros. Records, Tribe continues to work its magic, particularly on the songs "Crawl," "Supercollider," "Red Rover," and "Romeo Poe." The album has more of a romantic aura about it - even on the harder-edged songs - than Tribe's previous releases did. But Tribe never loses its spine on "Sleeper" as many Gothic bands do when wading into murky romanticism.

An Evolution

"It's an evolution," LaValley said of Tribe's more recent work. "There are no conscious attempts to sound a certain way."

Tribe brings its evolved sound, and recently acquired drummer Michael Levesque, to Bowlers, 104 Prescott St., Worcester, on Friday. Advance tickets for $7 are available at Bowlers, Ralph's Diner, 95 Prescott St., Worcester, and Coffee Kingdom, 2 Richmond Ave., Worcester. Tickets are $1 more on the night of the show. The show is one of a handful of New England club dates before the band embarks on a tour of Europe.

Levesque joined the band in the fall, shortly after the release of "Sleeper," and replaced founding member David Penzo. "He was great. He never played with our band, but he studied all our music," LaValley said of Levesque. The song "Supercollider" is just coming out as a single, and depending on its reception by MTV and radio the band will go back on the road for more extensive U.S. touring around the European dates.

To its credit, Tribe stuck to its guns on "Sleeper." The band worked as a democracy in putting together "Sleeper." Barous and Brosius penned the majority of the albums dozen, a turnaround from the band's major-label debut. LaValley explained that they just pick the songs they feel are the strongest. "On the first record it was the other way around. There's no meaning to it, it's just a democratic process," she said. "They didn't pay attention to what I can sing. They write what they want, and they're great writers. I've never had difficulty relating to the material." LaValley's husky, measure tone still anchors the Tribe sound. And as on past efforts, big, meaty melodic hooks are found all over "Sleeper."

The many awards Tribe has garnered in the Boston music scene are translating into even greater prominence. The band landed an appearance on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" and was picked by Spin magazine as a band to watch in '94. The events of '93 sort of snuck up on Tribe, much the same way its music can catch a listener off guard. "It's been an exciting year when you stop and list everything that's happened," LaValley said. Sometimes you just have to stop and think about things to really appreciated them.

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