Photos by: Cory Giacalone (Jackafunk Photography)
Sound Tribe Sector 9 stopped in Madison, Wisconsin at the beautiful Orpheum Theater on the band's current fall stretch. A town filled with a rich culture and counter cultures, the vibrant college town is an oasis in the Midwest. This Friday night was not at all a disappointment to the Tribe in attendance, filling the theater with songs from its new album and also touching on some, “oldies but goodies.”. I have not been able to see STS9 since 2014, now with Alana Rocklin on bass, I was excited to see the band with a new face and possibly a new twist on its sound.
To open up the night the five-piece launched into the beloved and ethereal “Metameme” which got the crowd grooving to the electric samples centra to the STS9 sound. Then they moved into the classic “Four Year Puma,” giving the crowd a played out 10-minute version of the song. What struck me right away is how much jazzier the song felt while still keeping the funk and electric sounds alive, with David Phipps rocking the keys and Rocklin rocking the bass lines, they complemented each other very nicely. Next on the list was the super funky “Wika Chikana,” but they kept it synth heavy and exciting this time around, always a favorite—this is when things started to pick up and you could tell the crowd was very excited to see what STS9 had in store for them this night.
“Get Loud,” a new song from their new album, The Universe Inside, has tons of potential and avenues for exploration; the bass lines are clearly the highlight of this song, as Hunter Brown on the guitar complements with his funky riffs. To close out the first set they moved back into the past with classics by segueing from “Get Loud” right into “STS9,” they were sure to keep the momentum going. To close out the first set they played “Poseidon”—this version was Pink Floyd-esque with a super trippy, what I would call space jam in the middle, it was a great way to close out the first set, leaving the crowd speechless and satisfied, yet wanting more.
Coming back to the stage for the second set, they set the crowd of as the lyrics, “People are you ready, ready, ready, people are you tryin”, they opened up with “Really Wut”, a definite way to get people right back into the groove. Also by this time Saxton Waller of Roy G Biv lighting was getting the light show going into full force, painting the theater with palettes of color that complement Sound Tribe Sector 9 and the sound of the song itself. Waller is very much so part of the band, as they are all one, in my opinion, especially seeing all types of lighting that STS9 has used since I started seeing them in 2004, I am always amazed by his skill, as being a self-taught concert lighting design specialist. Tribe then segued right from “Really Wut” into faved “Kamuy”, then they pulled out “Looking Back on Earth” from their album Ad Explorata. Then not stopping for a second of rest, they went right into, “Walk to the Light,” my first time hearing this live gem set me free, as the sampled lyrics sang, “From the darkness, I will save you, just walk to the light.” The band then continued on with “Breathe In” and right back into another song off their new album, “Worry No More.” Then coming up to the closing of the set they got down and dirty with fan favorite and classic, “Ramone & Emiglio,” then closing out the set with, “When the Dust Settles.” Coming back out to the encore with an amazing, “MOD” a super trancey song, got everyone’s hands in the air and their booties shaking.
It was an amazing evening with STS9, they definitely showed their love to the Midwest and those of Madison, Wisconsin. These folks have always been on fire, but with their diversity from playing songs, old and new, they know how to work the crowd and get them moving, shaking and smiling. I was very happy to see them all smiling on stage along with the crowd and only makes me much more excited for when they come around to Chicago in Feburary 2017 for a two night run at the Aragon Ballroom. Do yourself a favor, if you just want to let yourself go, dance and forget everything else except for the here and now, get out and see STS9 the next time they come through your town.
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