Sound Tribe Mesmerizes Music City

November 10, 2008 · Print This Article

By Andrew William Smith, Editor

Photos by Landin E. King

November 10, 2008

We’ve all been to the shows where people just stand around and stare, looking smart and soulless. Even when the band comes on, their butts remain unmoved. But some gigs defy this sad hipster drama to become dance parties with a purpose. With the genre-suspending and musically-mesmerizing magic of Sound Tribe Sector 9 (STS9), standing still is simply impossible.

On an unseasonably warm November night, this California “jamtronica” crew brought its autumn tour in support of the album Peaceblaster to Nashville’s War Memorial Auditorium. This acoustically amazing room is tucked away, hidden by the epic columns adjacent to the state capitol’s War Memorial Plaza (aka Legislative Plaza), and features a fabulously open parquet dance floor surrounded by balcony seating.

With the crowd thin at first, things got started late, and opening hip hop artist Count Bass D rapped to those who were there to hear him. By the time Sound Tribe took the stage at 9:45pm, the place had filled up considerably, but there was still plenty of room on the floor for some real arm-flailing and euphoria-nailing shamanic shenanigans to go down. (Some area fans were waiting for Saturday’s Knoxville gig to get their tribe on while this show had to compete with Girl Talk down the street at the Cannery Ballroom). At the sweaty center of the storm, the scene resembled a cross between a visceral ancient ritual and a visionary fraternity party.

Poised over their computers or keyboards or other techno-doodads wearing expressions of intense focus, the guys of the tribe look part mad scientist and part Jedi master. With all respect paid to peace, love, and long funky jams and no respect given to the limitations of genre, this collective has transformed the laptop into a weapon of love. From the light shows to the musical craftsmanship to the almost monk-like presence the guys have onstage, it might be easy to relegate this sonic tapestry to “head” music.

But this head is enigmatically connected to the heart-as especially evidenced by STS9′s serious commitments to social and environmental justice-and energetically connected to the body-as proven by the people who look to be possessed as they boogie to the bass and the drums.

With traditional live instruments complimenting the more blippy and trippy components of their compositions, this posse really does brew a positive new potion that’s impressive on record but is downright religious when performed live. By the time the last encore ended after midnight, Sound Tribe’s faithful fans had been treated to yet another night of ear-bending and fear-ending enchantment.

STS9 are David Phipps (Keyboards), Jeffree Lerner (Percusion), Hunter Brown (Guitar), David Murphy (Bass), and Zach Velmer (Drums). Peaceblaster was released this past summer on the band’s own 1320 Records, and STS9 are currently on tour. Please visit for more information.


One Response to “Sound Tribe Mesmerizes Music City”

  1. Cerulean on November 12th, 2008 5:06 pm

    I can only imagine. STS9 plays cherokee farms in my imagination…………….extensive.

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