By Michael Eilers
Arizona Daily Wildcat
The thunder of drums, the clatter of film projectors, the dull throb of stomping feet and chanting voices ─ Tucson locals Then Tingari take the stage with a blend of music and performance art that can leave the viewer breathless. This group of potent, original performers are taking their latest incarnation on the road, for a West Coast tour including Seattle, Las Vegas, and Portland.
Eric Eaton, drummer and noise technician, expresses an eagerness to get on the road. "We've done Tucson, basically, although we haven't played The Rock yet," he says with a sardonic smile.
"Maybe we're not worthy," singer/songwriter Nadia Hagen adds.
Formed over two years ago as a group of eclectic performers, Then Tingari has undergone a slow evolution, refining their sound and adding performance and melody to the tribal drumbeats. Now made up of five performers, including singer Ansha Baker and instrumentalists Rich Murray and Adam Brokamp, the group has been polishing their act to take on the road.
"We're taking the core elements of shows we've done, the stuff that really worked well, and combining them into a coherent set," Hagen says. She emphasizes that no band member has a fixed role. "We don't have designated spots, we skip around. We just try things until they sound right."
Founding member Eaton remembers the early days of the group, when there were 11 performers and only drums and handmade instruments. "We didn't have much equipment, but then we met this guy who had a bunch of keyboards and recording gear. We just tried to shape ourselves into a genre of 'not the norm.'"
Hagen refuses to define the Tingari sound. "Every show we do is different, the sound changes all the time, so I don't want to pin us down at all."
"We try to craft a song or a show with a theme, dealing with serious issues like death and anger," Baker adds. "I think we try to open the door, to allow people to deal with these issues in a different way─the best re
sponse we can get to one of our shows is 'you took me someplace.'"
"I think people are tired of hearing the same old shit all the time, people need to hear something different, something that cracks your head open," says Eaton.
Then Tingari's audience is as eclectic as the music they craft. "People just show up, a lot of diverse people, we don't target anyone but they seem to want a different sound," Eaton says.
Touring for about two weeks, the group will zigzag from city to city. Eaton says that they will definitely return to Tucson. "We have a really small scene, but it has a lot of honesty and integrity, and people support it ─ that's really key."
Check out Then Tingari's self-titled tape, available at Toxic Ranch Records, 623-2008, and watch out for a return show at a Performance Center near you.
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