Sound Tribe Sector 9 lands at Orpheum Theatre, overwhelms crowded venue with bright lights, loud music
The musical jam group Sound Tribe Sector 9 performed at the Orpheum Theatre Friday, April 12. Their deep space sound enthralled a packed house in Madison. Continuing to deliver their unique, electronic, jazz, psychedelic, hip-hop, drum and bass, post-rock sound, Sound Tribe Sector 9, or STS9, displayed their unique blend of electronic and traditional rock music that they have perfected since the late 90’s. Though primarily instrumental, STS9 delights the live audience with an array of carefully choreographed and expansive light display. Their live rig is so grand it takes a full-size semi truck to transport their gear.
Fans from far and wide came to view this spectacle. Evan Young, a STS9 fan, commented on his travel experience. Explaining how he traveled with a group of five of his friends from Appleton, Wis. He said that his group of friends was one of many who traveled almost two hours from the Fox Valley area to see STS9. He estimated the amount of enthusiasts from Fox Valley to be greater than two dozen individuals. In fact the show was so crowded on the floor of the performance area that fans had to become bumping into each other while dancing.
The balcony was no different. Between the cheering and loud music it was almost impossible to carry a conversation indoors. The combination of loud bass, and dance on the second floor was so great, it felt as if the floors were shaking. Light poi twirlers, think fire spinning without the fire, attracted the attention of anyone within visual range. Only adding to this futuristic, intergalactic, jam.
It all began with a dark mostly empty theater. The only people in the Orpheum prior to the opening act were the dedicated Orpheum staff. One of the bar tenders, Day, provided great insight on capturing good photos in the space, and I was given a tour of the locations I had access to. Music from artists like Thom York, and Dillon Francis played throughout the house sound system keeping the hardcore STS9 fanatics, who showed up early, entertained. The small group was getting restless from false hopes as stage hands walked on and off the stage, testing the massive amount of equipment.
With the audience in high anticipation the show began with opening act, “Russ Liquid,” also on the 1320 Record label. Although fairly new to the circuit Mr. Liquid approached the stage with confidence usually only found in seasoned musicians. His composure was such that when he began his set with the lights dim many thought the headliner was beginning. As a result, the once empty theater began to fill quickly. He joked with the audience during his amazing 45-minute set.
“You guys like trap music? Good, I don’t do any of that,” said Russ Liquid.
By this time the crowed was fully aware of Mr. Liquids musical capabilities. I counted four different instruments played by this one-man act. Using nothing more than a MacBook Pro and an Akai MPK25 Drum Machine, Mr. Liquid filled the room with what can only be described as Jazz Flute Dubstep. He used various loops he recorded live in front of the audience to seamlessly perform his style of music. Most surprising was his ability to sing, and then switch to Saxophone, Trumpet, and Flute; a truly spectacular thing to witness.
At 9:50 p.m. the headliner had begun. The stage transformed into what reminiscent of a Stargate SG1 transporter. Fog filled the room and the group faded in with a song off their new album “Peacemaker.”
Commencing this musical expedition, STS9’s David Murphy dances with the audience from stage rocking his five-stringed bass guitar in a funky, jazzy, reggae style. As far as having a front man, it is really hard to determine who that person might be in STS9. Every player has an integral role in the group. While the show started out with a sort of mellow reggae drummer, Zach Verlmer, turns up the heat by handing down some rhythmic, and difficult, drum beats.
And what would STS9 be without Jeffery Lerner supporting the percussion with hand drums? Lerner provides the futuristic sounds so many have craved since the new millennium controlling the hand sonic (digital drum pad). David Philips occupies center stage on keyboard, surrounded with enough sound equipment to open a home studio. And finally, Hunter Brown simply shreds on guitar, decorously and harmoniously complimenting the entire ensemble, with special emphasis on synthesized keys.
No comment from the group was attained in regards to the various charity organizations they have been involved in past such as Conscious Alliance, Renewable Energy, and the Make it Right Foundation. Still one cannot mistake the intimacy felt during the entire show. STS9 live tends to makes everyone feel as if they are right on stage with them. STS9 has also built a huge following via social media. Their official homepage, and SoundCloud is updated daily with free music downloads from lives, pictures, and Twitter feeds. Keeping things fresh and new, STS9 invites a horn section of miscellaneous musicians such as Russ Liquid and Alex Leong, a trombone player from Chicago.
Leong explained his role in this special performance. Revealing that horn trio literally met and played for the first time together just hours before the show. Between the extraordinary playful light display, special guest appearances, energetic crowed, and music that you could feel; STS9 live was well worth the ticket price. A band for our time, here to stay, and here to play. Follow them on SoundCloud by visiting soundcloud.com/sts9 or their website at sts.9.com.