A&E » Arts

Sensory overload for the dance music masses



Who: SoundTribe Sector 9

Where: Boot Pub

When: Friday, March 28

When you’ve had a hard day at work or a bad stack on the hill, where do you escape to? Mentally that is. A pristine beach on a deserted tropical island perhaps? Or the floor of a deep, dark jungle brimming with colour and life? Do you dream of lying in a vast open field of long grass, watching a thunderstorm brew in the distance? Wherever it is you go, the music of SoundTribe Sector 9 is known to take people there.

Using a sensory overload of lights, decorations, projected images, atmospheric sounds and musicianship, STS9 have built a loyal following behind a reputation for being incredible instrumental improvisers who push their audience’s imaginations into whole new realms.

"We’re really open sonically and rely quite heavily on free form," explained guitarist Hunter Brown. "If there’s a group of kids raging at the side of the stage, we’re going to run with that for a while. That way we’re really connecting with what’s going on in the room. We’re not trying to hit people over the head with what we can do, we’re just trying to create a fun atmosphere and elevate it as far as we can to make it a special night to remember for all involved. We’re into shaping the show to how the crowd reacts because it’s as much an experience for us as it is for them."

The San Francisco-based but Atlanta-raised musicians took their name from the golden age of the Mayan civilization, known as Sector 9. It was a time of great mysticism and imagery, just like the band’s performances.

Along for the ride with Brown are Zach Velmer on drums, David Murphy on bass, Jeffree Lerner on percussion and David Phipps on keyboards. Together with their chosen instruments and several computers they take the audience on a trip of seamless musical crescendos, keeping everyone dancing and wondering for the entire two to three hour set.

"With the laptops on stage we can trigger sequences, samples and field recordings to bring a more spiritual and emotional experience to our show. We record noises from cities we go to, street musicians and even little kids, incorporating it into the band’s ultimate sound," said Brown.

Because of this amalgamation of genres and sounds, the STS9 audience is usually a diverse one. They’ve managed to take the live jam band style into the dance and rave music category. The dance floor grooves along to soothing soundscapes blended with jazz, hip-hop, reggae, jungle and funk. The live jam lovers therefore get off on the fusion of sounds and instruments, while the club-going dance crowd move their bodies to a beat that is unusual and uplifting all at once.