Sound Tribe Sector 9, Jazz CafLondon, England- 3/16
Ever since the release of their fourth album, Artifact, Sound Tribe Sector 9 has been enjoying their most successful year to date, their music is reaching more enthusiastic fans and they continue to deliver high-energy, innovative live shows. STS9’s recent success as an American electronica touring band has led the band to the next step, a visit to Europe. The main purpose of this excursion was the 3-day Jam in the Dam festival in Amsterdam, Holland. Before the Tribe began their Dutch adventure, they made a quick stop at London’s Jazz Cafor their first-ever concert across the Atlantic.
The Jazz Cafs an intimate venue located in London’s youth counterculture epicenter, Camden Town. There’s only about thirty feet from the back of the stage to the opposite wall, with gigantic speakers floating above the stage. Despite the cozy confines, there still was plenty of room to move about and dance the night away. The crowd of about 200 was an interesting mix of curious Londoners and Americans on their way to Amsterdam. The pre-show discussion mainly consisted of Americans attempting to describe what STS9 is all about to the unversed Londoners. As it’s most difficult to describe STS9 to anyone, especially someone from a different culture, these conversations typically ended with “You’ll just have to see them, you’ll love it!” The crew was having some technical difficulties to begin with, so the show started a little late. The band, eager to play their first notes in Europe, patiently overlooked the stage from the balcony.
The crew remedied the problems with the equipment and STS9 finally took the stage. They began with a “Music My” that was not only feeling out the vibe of this London crowd, but also served as a mini-soundcheck as several adjustments were made. Their electronic revolution really began to find the groove with “Tokyo,” and maintained it for the rest of the night. When they hit their stride, you better be prepared for an excellent show. Musically, they begin to function as one. They followed with a “Somesing” that showcases a dynamic, friendlier version of their sound.
They left little time for a dull moment and powered on through with an extended and fun “Aimlessly.” This song seems to capture the musical force of STS9. Independently, they are five musicians playing a myriad of instruments. Many of these instruments make sounds that are unconventional in modern music. Yet, when these musicians and instruments come together and create music, the sum is greater than their individual parts. In this aspect, STS9 is larger than life. Throughout each song, they effortlessly attain this vibe, push the limits and see where it can take them. “F-Word” came next with some innovative rhythms and sonically pleasing bass lines.
STS9 continued to exceed expectations and delivered a powerful “Evasive> Kamuy.” “Blu Mood” followed as my personal highlight with a pulsing rhythm from Zach Velmer on drums that elevated the energy in the venue. Throughout the set, I found myself completely involved with the music and having a great time, then I would take a step back and remind myself of my reality; Holy crap! I’m in London at a STS9 concert! The intimate venue created a sense of community amongst everyone in attendance. The Americans, who had traveled so far for this moment, were dancing alongside open-minded Londoners who were not only clearing enjoying themselves, but were also impressed with the electronic funk of Sound Tribe. It all just felt right. “One a Day” concluded the one-set show and left the audience yearning for more.
“Grow” was an appropriate encore for STS9’s first European concert. They have rapidly climbed the jamband ladder and now are spreading their dance party abroad. I had the feeling after the show that they had some special treats reserved for Amsterdam. Nonetheless, the London show seemed to provide the opportunity for STS9 to build their musical momentum in the days before the festival. I still left completely satisfied and overwhelmingly impressed; two feelings that I get every time I see STS9 in concert. They consistently blow my socks off.
I departed the Jazz Cafnto the chilly London night. STS9 had just performed a top-notch concert as a warm-up for what’s to be a legendary Jam in the Dam. Sound Tribe Sector 9’s energy and creativity promise to catapult them into another successful year, a year in which they can grow as one of the most captivating and cutting-edge touring bands around.