Tijuana Cartel @ Woolly Mammoth

Transcending from the Fourth Dimension to your earholes

A minor transcendence occurred at the Woolly Mammoth’s Mane Stage last Saturday as cosmic explorers/lovers/musicians Tijuana Cartel, not to be confused with the notorious drug cartel, took a brief break from their travels in the Fourth Dimension to share their recent findings. With a seamless ability to skip back and forth through time and space (namely between Mexico, the Middle East and the Future), Gold Coast boys Paul George and Carey O’Sullivan performed a highly energetic set that sucked the audience from this dreary plane of existence to somewhere a tad more exotic.

A last minute switch-up to the support act led to Switchkraft opening the night, bringing their eclectic style of oldschool hip-hop beats mixed with funk, swing and a heavy dose of womp. The Kingscliff duo played a set that wouldn’t go amiss at a beginning-of-the-apocalypse party in some underground nuclear fallout shelter. Wrapped up in pure white hazchem suits, Glitch Buchanan (synths and SFX) and The Plastic Surgeon (samples, didg and ‘skratches’) started the night’s migration out of reality. They attracted more than a few elevated individuals to the dance floor, and a bearded man sporting a nun’s habit was seen sliding around to the deep bass. Unfortunately no other’s dressed up for the night but habit’s of a different order were certainly present in anticipation for Tijuana Cartel’s mind-blowing show. Switchkraft’s set leaned more towards a DJ set, the normal audiovisual performance was missing, but they still busted out the keytar and in the end, that’s what matters.

Turning the page back to Mesopotamia and the ancient Epic of Gilgamesh, Tijuana Cartel started our journey with 2014’s hit Enkidu - named after a character in the Epic who is formed from clay and saliva to rid Gilgamesh of his arrogance. The song’s repetitive arabic-inspired progression combined with George’s shamanic appearance and piercingly deep eyes lulled the audience into a hypnotic trance. The scene flashed between a guitarist/audience and a snake charmer/sea of swaying cobra’s. Percussionist Sheila Finke, playing a variety of hand drums, kept the beat in conjunction with O’Sullivan, Tijuana’s electronic producer, while Ramon Dilworth announced the changing movements on trumpet.

The set quickly dissolved into a freeform musical odyssey with no defined setlist but each talented musician was given plenty of room to groove in their own style. George let loose with his flamenco guitar flourishes, the crowd gave each other plenty of space of groove and all were slightly saddened when the night came to an end and the harsh reentry into reality hit. This is a band that has an incredibly diverse range across their albums but has to be seen live for the full experience. If you know them you’ll probably be there and if you don’t their gigs are great to walk into with no expectations.


Nick Lewis


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