STS9: When the Groove hits your Soul
Tonight is my first Sound Tribe show and I am excited. For those of you familiar with the electronic rock band, you will be unsurprised to hear that it was easily one of the most incredible experiences I’ve had in the music world. For those of you unfamiliar with them, look them up. Now. They’re from Atlanta. They’ll shake your soul.
STS9 has been around for a while (since 1998) and is a powerhouse of instrumental electronic sound. With over 11 albums, their own record label (1320) and a following whose enthusiasm and loyalty are reminiscent of Widespread Panic’s fam, there is no argument that STS9 is one of the most successful bands of our time.
My night begins outside of The Tabernacle, standing front to back with a Widespread Panic fan wearing colorful cotton with a glass piece hanging from her neck and a bro swigging fireball from the bottle. We are being serenaded by a street performer who is singing a strained, but on key melody and accompanying himself on a Ukulele while his friend calls for tips beside him. It is colorful beginning that speaks to what is ahead.
The band plays to a packed house. Every floor is filled with tallboy holding, pin wearing guys and gals each sporting a grin, eyes sparkling. Within moments of the band’s cheered in walk onto the stage the vibe is set. To say they brought the house down would be an understatement. They didn’t bring it down, they raised it to a higher plane. This was one of those shows. You know, the ones that remind you that music is the universal language. That it doesn’t matter who you are or where you're from, when the groove hits your soul your body has to move.
Sound Tribe Sector 9 doesn’t chat on stage, they don’t physically interact with the crowd, they play music. They play some of the best music you will ever hear. They are masters of the inescapable build. It starts with a headbob and a funky bass to open you up to the groove. Then, as you find yourself drawn deeper into the rhythm, the tempo rises, bouncing delightfully across electronic inspired percussion, jazz and hiphop inspired bass, and funk inspired keyboard. Never pausing, each instrument drives its vibrations across the floor and through the lights to wash over the now immersed crowd. The electronic guitar catches you as it grinds out a soulful riff. It ascends the fret board, dragging you with it and as the musical climax erupts through the crowd, hands are lifted in exultation and the floor trembles.
The crowd is brought to a frenzy, over and over again throughout the night. The transition from groove to peak is incredible. The band’s skill is breathtaking. Every number goes through a myriad of musical genres, soulful funk to bring the smiles, dirty rock to make you stomp, everyone complimented by the innovation, complexity of sound and driving rhythms of electronic music.
Everything about their show was amazing. Except for the 30 minute intermission. That wasn’t so great. But the majesty of the venue, when combined with a light show so colorfully intricate and well coordinated that I could have sworn I was seeing sound, perfected the evening in a way that will serve as a constant reminder of why I write about music.
Photos by Teddy Williams
Check out the single from their upcoming album The Universe Inside.
Photo Gallery by Missy Stowell