I had not heard of Sound Tribe Sector 9 before their show was announced at the House of Blues. The name intrigued me, so I did a little research. I was surprised to find that STS9 has been around for over 10 years, originated in Santa Cruz, CA, has a strong underground following, and are an instrumental band that blends trance beats with jazz rhythm and funk basslines. With that impressive of a history, I became quite eager to see their show.
I began this Friday evening at the Tuff-N-Uff: The Future Stars of MMA fights, and due to a broken arm ending one of the last fights, the fight went a little late. Unfortunately, I did not arrive until after STS9 had already taken the stage. Emancipator was the opening band, they are a bit more mellow, but has a similar style to STS9, and they are on STS9’s record label, 1320 records. When I arrived, I was informed STS9 had just taken the stage at 10:30pm.
As I wandered through the crowd towards the bar, I started taking notice of the fans in attendance, and instantly had to wonder if I was in LA. A large portion of STS9 fans are the free spirit drifters you often find near the beach, anywhere along the west coast. I was amazed at how large of an underground following STS9 had, not to the same magnitude of Phish, but certainly very similar. I always enjoy spending an evening dancing and drinking with these free personalities and instantly felt relaxed and in the groove.
I also took instant notice of the stunningly brilliant light show. Their setup was simple, spread out across the entire stage, all black, with huge LED light panels as the backdrop. The display was mostly vivid colors and shapes twisting and rotating along with the beat. It was so powerful and well done, you could breathe the colors as they consumed the fog filled air. For the first 30 minutes or so, I stood back from the stage, just soaking in the sound and colors, it was wonderful. They played long 7-10+ minute songs/groove sessions, and before I knew it, quickly I found myself in a trance.
STS9 thanked all their fans that traveled to see their show, and took a short 15 minute break. I took this opportunity to get close to the stage and in the middle of the dance floor. When STS9 returned, their immense and full sound echoed through our bodies, we each smiled and grooved to the music, and the crowd danced as one body. Similar to the first time I saw Ratatat, the sound was so powerful, rich, and natural you became entranced and could feel the music travel through you. The was STS9 blended simple drums, several keyboards and laptops, most songs had a funky bass and a classic wailing guitar, similar to that of Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour.
Sound Tribe Sector 9 continued the groves through 1am with two encores. The time just seemed to disappear, carried off by their drifting tunes. I was thankful I had the opportunity to see this band, dance with their fans, and was overall impressed by the performance they had given. It was a peaceful, immersive environment filled with sights and sounds that you could feel, even after the show was over. STS9 was interesting musically, visually, and so is their background and contributions to society; they are definitely worth a read and listen. STS9 or myspace