Last Night STS9 @ The Showbox
posted by February 24 at 8:23 PMon
It certainly wasn’t the usual indie crowd at the Showbox for Sector 9 last night. Every post-hippie crystal-toting new school gangster for miles found their way to the sold-out show, mingling outside in a swirl of dreadlocks, gem wraps, crooked ball caps, and ticketless hopefuls. Despite the extra-thorough search at the door a fragrant cloud hung over the party-ready throng inside. These people well-lubricated and well-amped — one poor kid got dragged out by security before the first note.
Like Segal said in this week’s Data Breaker column, STS9 has a tendency to drip into the saccharine, and after a quick, upbeat start, that’s exactly what they did. It’s impossible to tell if it was patience or ecstasy that kept the crowd involved, but eventually the band broke out of its soft-rocking ’80s prime time drama soundtrack and into some serious funk. For a few tunes before the end of the first set, guitarist Hunter Brown took command and began peeling off rockish riffs in an unusually aggressive style.
That full-bore energy continued into the second set. WIth Brown stepping up into the lead role, the band accelerated through noodly wimpiness and into an almost shred-heavy mode. Normally these guys pride themselves at their egalitarian approach, no individual member taking solos or the spotlight. Tonight was different, with Brown the focal point, backed by the rest of the band’s breezy atmospherics and Zach Velmer’s bionic drumming. At several times it was impossible to discern who was doing what onstage — the array of laptops, sequencers, effects pedals and other doodads arranged around each player was enough to launch a space shuttle.
The band bent electronic textures around itself, refracting their instruments through their gear. Dave Murphy upped the ballast of his bass to an unnaturally bombastic level, his low-end detonation slaying the crowd. With hip-hop bounce, staccato percussion and layers of chiming guitar, STS9 fused into an Rjd2-meets-Tortoise electro-dance-rock hybrid. They closed out the show with a couple of well-loved older numbers, wordless anthems that sent the audience into orbit before sending them home with ringing ears.
I went to summer camp with Sector 9’s old manager, so I was introduced to the band years ago, before they became the high-performance touring machine they are now. It’s been fun watching them evolve their sound, which they’ve done consistently and drastically to arrive at a place where chops, technology, intellect, and passion intersect in a singular musical experience.