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STS9, Calvin Theatre, Northampton, MA 9/26

Photo by Paul Sanguinetti

DJ Bassnectar got the party started in cozy little Northampton, MA, spinning his infectious grooves to a somewhat disinterested crowd that sporadically moved as they eagerly awaited Sound Tribe Sector Nine. The longer than normal wait only compounded the people’s restlessness to the point where there was a near eruption when the band finally took the stage.

The tribe wasted no time and jumped into “STS9,” announcing their arrival with their brand of ambient soundscapes driven by relentless drum lines and percussion. The first set included favorites such as “Move My Peeps” and “Open E,” but these tunes served mostly as a primer for things to come, keeping heads nodding and bobbing, patiently waiting for STS9 to fully bring it. “Arigato” set the masses in motion with its in your face synthesizers, heavy bass, and futuristic hip-hop beat. The set finished with “Dem Be” and “Grow,” which infused a more relaxed contemplative vibe to the venue.

The second set kicked off with the deep grooves of “F.Word” and “Be Nice” as a more unified dance movement began. It seemed STS9 was doing its usual tease the crowd first set and blow the place up come second set routine. “Wika Chikana” brought the full on grimy funk and it was in these fresh moments that the band shined brightest. “Really Wut?” was a soulful jam with clean, melodic guitar riffs singing sweetly over a richly textured back beat. The evening crescendoed with the set closing “Rent,” a fiercely driving tune that set the place ablaze, only to be cooled off slightly with the encore, “Breathe In.”

Despite the demands and wear of relentless touring, STS9 still managed to rock the party with their autonomous sound. Souls danced away their worries, forgetting society’s sickness. This is why the Tribe succeeds regardless of an on-the-fence stance from some of the cynics on the scene. While the hippier-than-thou may doubt, the rest of us dance and enjoy.

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