Written by Maggie Cocco & Micky Nogher
Photos by Ben Michelsen
Hometown favorites Otium and Lost Tribe Aotearoa share the love in a well-matched mini tour between Whangarei and Raglan, NZ. Both projects have something to celebrate as Otium return to the stage after 18 months in studio, and Lost Tribe Aotearoa give their triumphant 2020 album release the stage time it deserves.
Don’t worry, neither band is suffering for the lack of recent stage time. Lost Tribe Aotearoa and Otium boast 437,000 and 98,000 streams on just their most loved recent singles respectively. But these are musicians as competent on stage as in the studio, and it’s good to have them back in this element!
Otium took the stage at the Old Stone Butter Factory to fans screaming in anticipation, and began the show with a funky number, “City” that ambitiously featured a 3-part audience singalong. The audience knew many of their songs; pop laden with funk, reggae, and rock influence, and featuring relatable themes such as relationships, identity, and the daily grind. Highlights of the evening include their most popular single, “Curious,” their newest single and Kiwi summer anthem in the making, “Summer Sun,” an edgy cover of the Bee Gees “Staying Alive”, and my personal favorite, “Dollar for the Man”; a keyboard led funk-pop tune that screams Stevie. Each member brings equal skill and an appealing mixture of musical sincerity and playfulness to the band dynamic. One feels like they’re watching next generation rock stars in the making.
I wondered at the wisdom of having Otium open in their hometown, but as surely as Otium captured the crowd, Lost Tribe Aotearoa held them there. After releasing their 2020 album, LTA, as expected but postponing the tour, both the band and audience were hungry for the kind of energy that Lost Tribe Aotearoa’s hard hitting roots rock reggae brings. LTA’s originals hit just as hard as the well-loved reggae cannon they played besides. LTA features three distinct and complimentary front men backed by a killer band – musicians who know to play just what is needed; no more, no less – plus well considered horn arrangements. The cumulative effect is larger than life. Lost Tribe Aotearoa is just that – a tribe; and while you’re moving and singing along, you are part of it. Serious effort is required not to embrace tribe values of family, love, and ganja.