Review and Photos: Agori Tribe w/Chinese Connection Dub Embassy & Yelephants - 1884 Lounge - Memphis, TN - 12/19/13

Agori Tribe is an experimental psychedelic rock band formed in Memphis in 2008. The five-piece band consists of David Collins (guitar, synths), Sean Naughton (drums), Will Nicholls (guitar), Jeff Naylor (bass), and Dave Hash (keys, percussion). Citing primary inspirations such as Pink Floyd, Soundtribe Sector 9 (STS9), My Morning Jacket, Shpongle, and Ozric Tentacles, this talented young group of musicians puts on a truly one-of-a-kind show. The band promotes community, positivity and experience, not only through their music, but also through their genuine, down-to-earth personalities. On Thursday, December 19, the 1884 Lounge at Minglewood Plaza hosted Agori Tribe Presents A Very Christmas Special, with special guests Chinese Connection Dub Embassy and Yelephants.
Yelephants started off the night with incredible energy. The New Orleans based quartet was all over the stage, exuding passion and emotion. The music, attitude and energy screaming out felt as if the glory days of punk rock had been renewed. We’re talking the Ramones, The Clash, Sex Pistols. Yelephants was a great opening band, getting the crowd amped up and moving.
Chinese Connection Dub Embassy followed Yelephants with a powerful, soulful mix of funk, rhythm & blues, and reggae. CCDE is based in Memphis, and one thing that impresses me most about this group of guys is that you would be hard pressed to find a group of musicians that has more fun on stage. Also, while all members of the band are obviously extremely talented musically, they keep things simple. They are not up there to show off. They just want for the audience to have as much fun as they are having. Their entire set was filled with positive vibes, tight rhythm and a true sense of soul.

As soon as Agori Tribe took the stage, with their signature psychedelic intro, the entire crowd immediately became very attentive. I got the feeling that everyone was preparing themselves for the journey that is Agori Tribe. The guys did not disappoint, taking the intro straight into a hard rockin’ version of “Carol of the Bells,” followed by an entire set of original material. Swirling, spacey jams infused with funky jazz grooves created a mind-bending atmosphere. Their versatility and fusion of genres emits a defiance of definition. One song, “Buttah Knife Blooze,” the band fittingly classified “space blues.” Others have described their sound as “space island funk rock.”
But Agori Tribe is much more than spaced out jams and genre fusing. The composition of their songs is really complex. Each song, besides having multiple genres, has many different parts, or movements. There is no ABAB (verse, chorus, verse, chorus) format going on here. There are recurring themes within each movement, but the structure is long and ever changing, keeping listeners on their toes. The long, varying structure allows each song to tell its own story. Not every listener hears the same story though, and that is the magic of Agori Tribe for me. Almost all of their original material is instrumental, with little or no lyrics. So as each song launches listeners into an aural adventure, no two people have the same experience. This aspect of their music opens up an endless amount of possibilities, and Agori Tribe will reach out to every nook and cranny they can possibly fathom.
Besides song structure, there are other aspects of the band’s musicianship that make them so great. Not only are they all very talented at their respective instruments, but as a group, they are extremely tight. They play incredibly well together and feed off of each other constantly. At 1884 Lounge, Agori Tribe showed a level of group cohesion that can only be seen in the cream of the crop. If they missed a beat, I sure didn’t hear it. Also, one of the most important qualities for such an experimental type of band is patience. The band showed so much patience, not only with each other, but with the music and structure. It was obvious that their understanding of music (in general), their own compositions, and each other’s playing styles was extremely advanced for such a young group of musicians.
To sum up, Agori Tribe absolutely rocked this show. Dave’s keys were melodic and rhythmic. Sean’s drumming was tight, dynamic and unwavering. Jeff’s bass was powerful. Will and David worked flawlessly off of each other, taking turns on lead guitar, and both guitarists’ solos rocked. As I was mopping my face up off the floor, I couldn’t help but think about what the future has in store for this talented young band. Following is the setlist, as well as a link to their debut album, which I highly recommend!
Words: “Ragin’” Randy Harris
Photos: Ellis Jones
Setlist:
Intro > Carol of the Bells
Lone Cock In The Field/Memories Of Childhood
Space Out (End)
Buttah Knife Blooze
Sweet Naught Sour
Jamasia In Blue
…And Then I Saw A Universe (feat. CCDE)
Tiny Tyrant Biggins and the Avant Groove
Encore: Ride That Train
Album: The Hard Mountain Tradition
Facebook: Agori Tribe

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