STS9 Fall Tour 2011 Reviews: 10/20 – 10/23

10/20/2011 – House of Blues – Boston, MA

In returning to the site of my first indoor Sound Tribe show (Club Avalon at the time), I was surprisingly pleased to find a more mature crowd than the House of Rules, uhh I mean Blues norm, a short line worked by friendly security guards, and the much needed addition of an outdoor cigarette smoking section. As I arrived, the dance floor was already full and The Polish Ambassador had just finished his set. I could feel the anticipatory energy in the air on this fall night, perhaps it was due to the tour finally arriving in a city the size of Boston. Whatever it was that filled the air, Tribe was able to feed off of it perfectly from the second they took the stage. Kicking into an energetic and eerie “Shock Doctrine” that guitarist Hunter Brown slayed, they played straight into two classics… a dubby, skanked out version of “Be Nice” and an extra funky “One a Day”, fit for an interplanetary remake of Boogie Nights, that had bassist David Murphy emphatically jumping up and down on stage, appropriately donning a “F*ck Cancer” t-shirt for the evening. It’s nice to hear STS9 settling well into newer songs in their repertoire like “Shock Doctrine”, something I cannot say of counterpart jam bands at their popularity level.

Check out this incredible video of “Shock Doctrine” & “Be Nice,” courtesy of Stefan Malner & Crystal Wiggins:

As keyboardist David Phipps extended an extra crunchy intro to “Inspire Strikes Back,” I was gifted with one of the best versions of the song I’ve heard in a while. With a synthy, bouncy feel to the beginning of the song, Hunter took over the second half and brought the crowd up to whole other level as Murph cheered him on. As we reached a gentle cruising altitude, Tribe smoothed things out a bit with a beautifully crafted “We’ll Meet in Our Dreams,” showcasing some top-notch liquid DnB and just plain out of this world composition skills. “Beyond Right Now” was a good opportunity for a cigarette in my opinion and I was rewarded right as I got back in with a sick “Unquestionable Supremacy of Nature,” catching the band experimenting with samples from saxophones and sirens and an extended hip-hop ending to the song. Tribe closed out the energetic first set with the title track from their new album, “When the Dust Settles,” that drummer Zach Velmer absolutely killed, another new song I can see them really maturing into over time.

Percussionist Jeff Lerner stole the show as the band opened the second set with a 10-minute “Rent,” jamming straight into the slow-building classic “Evasive Maneuvers,” the crunchy newer song “Atlas” and then into a more relaxed “Metameme,” again tossing in a splash of their signature liquid DnB style. The rest of the second set was pure enjoyment for me as Tribe threw down three of my old school favorites. First taking me to a far away place with “What is Love?,” every time I hear it I can never seem to get enough of this song. Next they gave the crowd a chance to break it down with “Arigato” as Zach unleashed a full-on assault on his drum set at the end, and ended the set with a high-powered, housy “Moon Socket” that brought me back to the Sound Tribe of old. After encoring with “Scheme,” off their new album, my only criticism of the show was the lack of time to close out the night with a classic. Have no fear folks, STS9 has reclaimed their spot atop the livetronica pedestal, throwing down one of the most energetic Tribe shows I have ever seen and showing they can seamlessly flow between old and new material while still maintaining that classic Tribe feel. ~IntuiSean

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10/21/2011 – The Electric Factory – Philadelphia, PA

Just as the name implies, Philly’s Electric Factory certainly plugged us in due to plenty of funky beats and a perfectly timed light show thanks to Saxton. With a big New York show around the corner, it was nice to have a small warm atmosphere to get up close and personal. Getting up close is exactly what the security loves to do in this particular town, only to be outdone by TSA at the airport on my flight out. But brotherly love this city has, and I didn’t notice many problems, if any, once inside. However, I was a bit confused why a city that is so cold and rainy didn’t have a coat check, and having the over 21 section upstairs and away from the action on stage seemed lame. The Polish Ambassador started the night off proper as the crowd slowly trickled in and his style of flow left us all ready for STS9.

The first set pleasantly took me back a few years and started off with a bang! The “BoC” intro tying into “Tooth” was super crisp and tight, making it feel as if they were already more than warmed up. They then set the night right by playing a super smooth “Lo Swaga” that got the crowd moving nicely. Letting things cool off for a little, Tribe worked up to a “Kamuy”/”Monkey Music” that ended with an awesomely long Zach Velmer drum solo that fired up the house! The first set closed up with some sick versions of “The Rabble” and maybe my favorite of the night “Aimlessly,” which keyboardist David Phipps just plain had his way with.

After letting the crowd recharge their batteries, STS9 jumped right back into the action with “EHM” and then played to the taste of the young crowd with “Oil and Water”. The vibrations in the room were definitely on track with the light show as Tribe ripped up a nice “Golden Gate/ Frequencies 3” jam that left the crowd wanting more. Clearly the band was enjoying the night as bassist David Murphy danced around playing another of my favorites of the night, “Scheme”. The E Factory was in no way ready for the music to be over when the band finished the set with “When the Dust Settles,” so we were all thrilled when they gave us an “Instantly” hug goodnight. ~Medicine Man

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10/22/2011 Best Buy Theater New York, NY

 After circling around Best Buy Theater like a mad man looking for parking I finally found a spot and raced to the venue.  I carefully made it through security and towards the stage in order to catch what seemed to be a very promising show. STS9 opened with their Nine Inch Nail’s cover of “Closer” and smoothly transitioned into one of their new tracks ‘Scheme” from their newish EP “When The Dust Settles”. Best Buy Theater may be a nice venue to be at considering there is space on the floor and seats available at all times. However, I couldn’t figure out whether it was the sound system or soundboard to blame for some clipping and muffling coming out of the speakers. It didn’t seem to matter when “Abcees” was on because the snare and reggae samples in the song were so raw that it instantly gave me a wonderful sensation to keep it moving. Blasting into “Shock Doctrine” you could see the intensity of the crowd escalate and people start getting truly into the last string of tracks before STS9 let us off on an intermission.

They opened their 2nd set with Peace Blaster’s “Hidden Hand, Hidden Fist” which quickly got the crowd up off their feet and raging as if the music had never stopped. This set seemed more energetic from the get go and their 2nd song “When the Dust Settles” was amazing from beginning to end. I had never seen STS9 perform so intensely at that point in the show when I had to put the camera down for a song and realize what was going on around me. The place was roaring, the fans were screaming, Best Buy Theater was truly alive, and when I looked behind me even the people in the seats were standing and getting down to the masterminds at work. All in all, the show was a great time and if that is the direction Sound Tribe is looking to take with their music then it seems very promising. ~Grandose

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10/23/2011 – The Jefferson Theatre – Charlottesville, VA

Getting back to a place I lived and loved for many years was only made that much sweeter by the fact that Sound Tribe was playing at the newly-rebuilt Jefferson Theater in Charlottesville, Virginia. With the leaves changing and the season shifting, having such an intimate venue for STS9 to rock our domes fit perfectly. It was so tiny it sold out, leaving many sad souls at the door. The Jefferson Theater was pleasant, with no lines getting in as security was surprisingly calm and simple, and an honor system coat check worked out seamlessly. When you enter this venue, it takes you back a few hundred years; with former dead presidents wearing white wigs, we knew we were about to get our groove on. The lack of an opener and the fairly early start time confused some, but once everyone made their way in and got situated, the band lit that theater up like I had never seen before.

They started right off with a “Live at Home” intro that tied nicely into one of my current favorites – “Atlas” – that set the pace for the first set. Bringing the crowd back to a nice old school jam, Hunter Brown mellowed us out with a “Grow” that flowed well into a funky “Beyond Right Now.”  I personally enjoyed the old and new vibes as they rocked out to “Golden Gate” then good ol’ “Be Nice.” They then took us down a beautiful ten minute rendition of “Empires”.  The first set closed out with an energetic “Scheme” and all we could do is exit like a bunch of zombies to try and get some air.

As we shuffled back in and prepared for take off, STS9 blasted us off with “Simulator” and “Tooth”.  “Metameme” and “Grizzly” produced a new feel before getting back to “When the Dust Settles” again… So, it was very nice to hear “Moon Socket” work its way into the mix and remind me again what it is that I love about Sound Tribe. A really short version of “Instantly” shifted so awesomely into longer versions of classics “Kamuy” and “Equinox” that I really loved! No way was the crowd gonna let things stop there. The roar of peeps shouting and feet stomping set the feel at the tiny Jefferson Theater, so when the band made it back out and closed out a wonderful night with “20-12” we couldn’t be more satisfied!  Thank you Sound Tribe Sector 9, and thank you Charlottesville. ~Medicine Man

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