STS9 ROCKS THE BOX IN ATLANTIC CITY- Summer 2006 [B.Getz on JamBase]

Words by B.Getz

STS9 (Sound Tribe Sector Nine) :: 04.29 :: Borgata Music Box :: Atlantic City, NJ

I remember a noodling Hunter Brown, head bowed over his guitar as the notes registered high above the swirling throngs at the Georgia Theatre. Twas the Spring of ’98, and Sector Nine was the hottest jamband down South after the mighty Widespread Panic. They had yet to establish their own sound and were still taking solos, vamping off into wah-wah funk, and emulating the acid-funk of their Green Mountain forefathers. Sure, they may not have admitted it, but the years of 97-99 were all about the funk in jamband land, whether it was the Phish or the Greyboys. Back then, Sector 9 wasn’t yet a Sound Tribe, but the seeds were being sewn.So much has transpired since those days… Sound Tribe has defined a sound, developed a genre, created a scene, an ethos, and a way of life. They have a devout following, an air of righteousness, a calming tranquility, and have emblazoned a trail marrying intense, spirited instrumentation with today’s ever-evolving technologies. The players manipulate the sonics thru Apple computers and progressive live software to deliver mind-numbing séances of drum-and-bass, down-tempo, and acidic jazzy overtones. Their incredible pairing with the Zen Master of atmospheric drum-and-bass, the forefather LTJ Bukem, solidified their arrival, their niche, and their rep as one of the baddest trailblazers in the game, surpassing the jamband tag.

A recent tour stop betrayed the utmost in irony – Atlantic City, New Jersey being the antithesis of all things Sound Tribe. The band, and unfortunately the audience too, were kinda outta their element, so to say. Atlantic City used to be a classy destination; it thrived in the post-Depression era as a vacation spot for ballers of all kinds, organized crime cats mingled with politicians and big-wigs. At least that’s how Uncle Junior (and my grandparents) remember it. Decades later, Vegas took the people from AC, and AC brought in Casinos of their own. The city was never the same, wrought with outsiders, gamblers, thieves, and later, crackheads and crooked politicians. The surrounding seashore enclaves grew and sprawled, but Atlantic City was left behind, until recently. Spurred by the Vegas-styled casino Borgata, the city has seen a growth and revitalization, with Showboat’s ‘House of Blues’ and Tropicana’s ‘The Quarter’ bringing a new millennium vibe to the once-dormant seashore city. Nowadays, it’s fashionable to rock AC. The Duo and Mule ushered in this new era last summer with the first show at the HOB, and now STS9 was here to rock The Music Box, the smaller club for live music at the Borgata.

Unfortunately, the show wasn’t much to speak of, or write about.

The band was given an 11 p.m. curfew, and fans trickled in curiously little by little – this writer, a bit late himself. The band seemed to stop and go and had trouble really finding that place that STS9 goes – the realm of seismic waltzes in frenzied time signatures, the timeless euphoric melodies melted into futuristic sound-scapes with thunderous bottom-end. Sure, there were moments of Tribe madness, but it seemed they just weren’t totally in sync. Most people in the room were eagerly trying to delve into the magic, but as it came and went, so did the crowd and its inspiration. The night began with a standard “Big Little Thing,” and immediately following, they dropped the “F Word.” Other highlights came later in their single long set, such as the piano-melody lead on “By the Morning Sun.” “Tokyo” gave way to “Dem Be,” but the band didn’t really pick up steam again until the Hunter Brown’s Paul Reed Smith tones resurrected the classic STS9 track “Circus.” The playing throughout this show was serviceable, but not the mind-blowing ecstasy we have come to expect from the Tribe. That sonic skull-fuck was never to arise at the Music Box, though skin-bashing wunderkind Zach Velmer did induce a bit of that frenzied, jungle-drum madness late in the gig during the polyrhythmic juggernaut “Aimlessly.” To the dismay of the 9 massive that was now getting their groove on full bore with relentless dancing and incredible energy, this was to be the end of the show. Sure, the band reappeared for a charged and firing double encore of “This, Us” and “Open E,” but it was too late. The curfew was approaching.

Looking back on the night, it wasn’t a bad show – just a little short. Amidst a grueling, lengthy tour, sometimes even the best bands don’t have it together at every show. If this was one’s virgin Sound Tribe experience, the fan would certainly have been impressed. However, for those who have experienced the STS9 magic, their patented endless bouts of blissful sonic euphoria, four-to-the-floor jungle cacophony, and their opiate-like down-tempo grooves, well Atlantic City’s show was just a sampler, a taste, a tidbit, and the tip of a enchanted iceberg.

JamBase | Atlantic City
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[Published on: 5/23/06]


claye Thu 5/25/2006 07:42AM

Great write-up as always from this site. I hit up two shows on this northeast run (Albany and Buffalo) and once again solidified my opinion of STS9 being my favorite band out there now. The Albany show was tight, but left me wanting something more for some reason. Buffalo however, was probably the best indoor Sector 9 performances I have ever witnessed. Maybe it was because they has a couple days off prior to the show, but they brought it to Buffalo, and they brought it hard.

pheelalrights Thu 5/25/2006 08:36AM


What a biting article. Nice to see actual opinions expressed instead of the always glowing, maybe it’s the common theme of chemicals at these events, reviews. I concur with claye, STS9 is my favorite current act.

I have to add…I read about Smokestack on a Jbase post and downloaded from archive. It’s worth your time. Check ’em out. Wish I was in my old stompin’ grounds of A2 to see them in person.

letshavesomefun Thu 5/25/2006 10:44AM

i also are a huge tribe fan. i have been seeing tribe since 01 or 02. and i must say i was disappointed with the shows this tour. im from the midwest, wisco what? and anytime tribe has come to the midwest they throw down to best of their abilities. however on this past tour i caught the first 3 shows in cali and the last one in detroit and i have to say i was dissapointed. the san diego show may have been the best except for the fact that out west shows start to early and we missed the first half of the first set,(check 1st set sd show, and youll see what i missed). kids in the west call tribe “slow tribe” and i saw first hand why they do so. the tempo of the shows in cali were nothing compared to the way they throw down in the midwest. And though i say midwest detroit was nothing really to talk about. they repeated a couple of songs from the night before and end a tour with big little as an encore. the ended the tour the way they started slow and not that great.
Hunter doesn’t play a PRS btw, it’s a modulus (unless he switched this tour) Sometimes plays a godin as well

matt87 Thu 5/25/2006 04:15PM

Why is this story titled “STS9 ROCKS THE BOX IN ATLANTIC CITY” if “the show wasn’t much to speak of, or write about”?

Spridal69  Thu 5/25/2006 07:46PM

The writer wasn’t the only person upset with the show.

They may of had an 11 oclock curfew but the show was over by 10:40.

Greatwaves Fri 5/26/2006 04:36AM

im not sure i agree with this article or some opinions out there, isaw columbus and detroit on this tour and two chicago nights last tour, ive been seeein them since 2000, and the big difference in their sound is that it is much more tight, they know exactly what and when to do what they want. yes they have strayed from the funk to more trance and hip hop, but this is all progression. i still dance my ass off at an STS9 show and feel that special unique oneness with the band and audience at their shows, very few other bands out there do this for me. keep up the creative work STS9, and thats another thing this band is so much more about the music, its about the community artists, crystals, energy, flowers, people, computers, helping others, clothing line, etc…..peace

tehdead  Sat 5/27/2006 12:34AM

This write-up does not do the justic that sts9 deserves i was also at the buffalo show and it was by far one of the best concerts to go to if u wanna dance and have a good time. They bring a ton of energy with these crazy alien-funk jams they bust out, not to mension there drumer is amazing but if these guys come close to you i would defintly go see them. I hope they come back to the buffalo region very soon

 5/30/2006 06:43AM

Its true.. sts9 cant always find their groove, I have seen it happen before.. Plus, being an OLD school fan, (seen them in early 90’s at back yard parties), they have progressed to a electronic point, that has left the soul behind!! Look at the progression of albums and the sound of each one, as they have morphed!! Compare the first album to artifact!!! This is my schtick with them these days, the old stuff had more fire in the belly!! peace yall..

JakeMarfoglia Wed 5/31/2006 05:32PM

I attended buffalo too, and let me tell you that show was fucking sick. They didnt even come on till like 9:30 or so but they rocked till 1 am jam after crazy jam. I have no doubts that sound tribe can take me there.

VWphishGD Thu 6/1/2006 12:32PM

“STS9, and thats another thing this band is so much more about the music, its about the community artists, crystals, energy, flowers, people, computers, helping others, clothing line, etc”

?????? So maybe they should stop worrying about all that other crap and focus on the tunes. sts9 was good at a point. That point hasnt been 2006