STS9 – Crystal Ballroom (Portland, OR; February 18, 2010)
Sound Tribe Sector 9, abbreviated and most commonly known as STS9, is originally from Atlanta, Georgia. The group got together in the early ’90s; ten years later, they relocated to northern California. Ever since their beginnings, they have had a huge, loyal following. They are one of my own personal favorite bands of all time. Few lyrics, just pure inspiring music.
Their sound is an eclectic mix of rock, jam, jazz, trance, electronic, funk, and hip-hop. I know: awesome energy! They focus on group-wide, extended jam sessions mixing individual instruments with synthesized electronic sounds. I suppose I would describe them as a progeny of Phish & Depeche Mode & Tiesto. Yeah, I think that just about does it.
Needless to say, the stage at this month’s performance at the Crystal Ballroom was full of extra computers and monitors, accompanied by psychedelic lighting systems and extra bass boxes. Seriously, the Crystal Ballroom’s stage is a large one, able to hold a small orchestra; STS9, however, was “forced to” take over part of the dance floor for their extra speakers and monitors. As a photographer, I was ecstatic to have a photo pit all to myself, of course, but when I got there . . . wow. I hardly had room to move around freely because of all the added sound system they had! Ordinarily, I would be a little put off by my limitations as a photographer, but in this case, absolutely NOT! The beats and rhythms and bass their music is well known and loved for needed to be “exaggerated” by the extra equipment they brought with them. From where I was standing, I could see three sound guys!
The crowd was wild, entranced to say the least. I noticed fewer people than usual going to the bar area for drinks this time: everyone was too busy shaking and moving and grooving to STS9’s long jams. It was an amazing show. Full house, packed to the brim. Visually stimulating (with their state-of-the-art LED panels), and sensational to listen to. I personally ran into people who live fairly far from Portland who made the effort to take a long drive into town just to see them live.
February 19th was the first of the two nights STS9 played here in Portland. Both nights were packed. Not only is their music intense and inspiring, their stage presence was amazing to watch as well. Not much of a social band this one: they are simply geniuses at work! The concentration and the dedication clearly visible in their faces with their expressions is inspiring. One can tell they are professionals and one can tell they are there to impress, to be perfect, to be tight. Truly hypnotic artists at work.