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Published: 2001/09/20
by Mark Pantsari

Sound Tribe Sector 9, Music Farm, Charlestown, SC- 9/15

To say the least, it was a truly horrific week in America that affected every aspect of our every day lives. Aside from the obvious global, national, financial, and social impact of the tragedies, the entertainment industry was brought to a near screeching halt. College and professional sports were postponed, movie releases and television shows were pushed back, and several national and local concerts were called off. Saturday’s performance at the Music Farm by Sound Tribe Sector 9 (STS9) proved to be a highlight of an otherwise dreary weekend.

It was refreshing to see the Farm comfortably packed with people ready to witness the sonic and visual experience that is Sector 9. The quintet has quickly become one of the most interesting and hard to define groups on the touring circuit. It’s been called “interstellar space funk,” “organic techno,” and “jam-trance,” but STS9’s collective sound is beyond adjectives. Perhaps a more relevant analogy would be likening the music to a sonic E-Bola virus. Once exposed your entire body is morphed into a pile of grooving, pulsating goo.

The band opened the show with “and some are angels” off their latest release Offered Schematics Suggesting Peace, which soon infected the entire energetic crowd. Zach Velmer’s drumming in the song and throughout the entire show demonstrated that is humanly possible to physically replicate the rapid break beats found in House and Techno music. Coupled with the agile grooves of David Murphy’s bass, STS9 showcases a rhythm section that can switch directions with simple eye contact among the members or a wave of Velmer’s sticks. David Phipps work on keyboards provides an ethereal backdrop at times and a brooding melody at others. Hunter Brown’s guitar adds subtle jazz notes and funky riffs that perfectly find their niche in the mix. Jeffree Lener’s accentuating percussion is the perfect medium for melody and rhythm to communicate.

Sector 9’s strength lies in their cohesiveness. There’s very little soloing, something that goes against the typical jam-band’ repertoire. The music constantly moves from hypnotic dance, to wailing world beats, to dark and groovy funk. The second set featured “Water Song,” also on the current album that brought forth an impromptu free-form rap by a friend of the band. Along with their respective individual talents on actual instruments, STS9 implement a lot of electronics. Velmer often used a programmable electronic drum pad, Lerner and Murphy had a fare share of buttons and knobs between them, and Phipps’ and Brown’s side of the stage looked like something from a NASA command center, complete with a lap top computer and all sorts of complicated lights and gadgets. The electronic effects, beats, and voices produced compliment the music without taking away from the actual physical notes of the band.
As the second set came to a close, the audience was in a frenzy. A look around the wild lights pulsing from the stage showed nearly everyone in the audience getting their proverbial groove-on.’ A good vibe was definitely had by all.

The immortal words of Bob Marley best describe the healing, calming, and uniting power of music. “One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain. So hit me with music. Hit me with music.”

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