Sound Tribe Sector 9, Tabernacle Theatre, Atlanta- 12/31
New Year's Eve shows always hold a special mystique. While the songs may be the same as any other show, something special is always brought to the party. This New Year's was something extraordinary, not only for the fans but also for Sound Tribe Sector 9. This year's New Year's run was being documented and tapped, no doubt for future release. The crowd's energy was overflowing and everyone was in a celebratory spirit. Greetings of smiles were passed freely and the consensus was that it was time to let it all go. The previous night, while good, was more of a warm up set. Earlier in the evening, peering down from the ninth floor of the Omni, we watch all pre-show activities, the will call line wrapping around the building, scalpers trying to gobble up tickets, a few hundred excited people waiting to celebrate the beginning of a new year, and a marquee that flashed "Sound Tribe Sector Nine, December 31st, Sold Out".
The Tabernacle provided a perfect venue and though clicha bad seat could not be found anywhere. The stage was set with white roses and withered trees that echoed the ambience of a Tim Burton movie. White petals of lily and assorted flowers picked up the color of passing lights, while ribbons draped on the emaciated trees refracted laser beams into a rainbow of hues. Before the show began, out of the corner of my eye, I caught someone on stage that looked strangely like a barbarian. I turned to my friend and mentioned that I saw a Hun on the stage and he just laughed. Turns out the barbarian were part of a troop of fire dancers known as Phoenix Rising.
The first set opened with a Phoenix Rising appearance, as Sound Tribe eased into the dreamy grove "Nautilus". Behind a white sheet, flames appeared, shooting tracers in motion following the sonic waves, an incredibly surreal experiment in sound and vision. "Squares and Cubes" followed with an intense series of hand made break beats building into a dreamlike daze. The 30th and 31st both included many new songs and improvisational jams. The first to make an appearance on New Years was entitled "Reemergence", , followed by the hard hitting groove of "Open E". "Open E" was truly one of the highlights of the first set, beginning with the pounding base groove that gradually cascaded and then exploded. This was the first time of the night that things really got going and the crowd became animated. "Crystal Instrument's" loops of "Movements" transitioned into "4 My Peeps", clocking in at a little over thirteen minutes followed by "Better Day". "What is Love" closed the first set in a furry of phazer rifts and pick scraps intensifying into a low roar from the crowd.
Forgoing the traditional countdown, Sound Tribe began the second set about ten minutes before midnight with an appropriate entitled number, Tribal Jam, an afro-Cuban percussion lead romp, before incorporating the countdown into the transition with another new piece, Alien Funk. At the stroke of midnight the air filled with a slight floral fragrance, as confetti and rose petals trickled from the upper balconies and ceiling. The exuberance of the crowd carried over into an all night dance-a-thon as Sound Tribe worked their way through "Peoples" and another new title "Possibilities". "Tap In's" perpetual build led to a nice head nodding groove that erupted into ragged guitar riffs and bone-jarring, base only to be calmed back into a double quick snare and high hat rhythm, topping off at around fifteen minutes plus. "Native End" trickled into "Grow", which with its bluesy guitar riffs were a nice change of pace that swayed the multitudes to a slightly different beat. "Grow" made me feel as if I should be sitting on a fine leather couch, sipping bourbon at an upscale bar. Between "Tap In" and "Grow" there was not much room for improvement. These two set the standard for the second set and, along with "Open E", the show. The set strolled to an end with a "Mischief of a Sleepwalker" and finally closed with "Tokyo". Overall this set was quite powerful with a variety of tunes and styles, continuing with the night's theme High Energy.
For the encores, Sector 9 picked three numbers, an "Improv Jam" with special guest Richard Devine, who set in various numbers during the New Year's run, "Havona Ascent" with vocalists/rappers Collective Effort, who in my opinion left a lot to be desired, and "Breathe In" the perfect encore. On the other hand, the contrast for the final encore "Breathe In" was tremendous. By far my favorite of the two night runs and a hell of a closer, "Breathe In" was truly the start to a Happy New Year.
The high energy of the 31st was quite a refreshing experience. At times the trance would lure you in to an almost coma like state in which there was no hope of escape. Part of Sound Tribe's uniqueness is their ability to produce an unpredictable atmosphere. Some bands have the ability to transition between high and lows quickly with a sporadic pace, while other bands prefer transitions that resemble a slow burn. Sector Nine forgoes all these stereotypes with subtle, but powerful transitions that are unclassifiable. The astute listener can attempt to pick out the direction of the tune, but is usually fooled by the actual course of the experience.