Sound Tribe Sector 9 returned to Asheville after a brief hiatus from the area, performing at the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium on Saturday. Immediately dropping into an energetic version of “When The Dust Settles,” the band wasted no time getting down to business. Featuring the well known arpeggiated synthesizer, heavy bass tones and hypnotic guitar rhythms, this was a perfect song choice to kick off an evening with STS9.
Lighting Director Saxton Waller brilliantly lit up the venue, blanketing the band in his iconic ROYGBIV spectrum. He utilized a newer light rig than the one used on the band’s last visit to Asheville, and the intensity of his work has only increased. Known for being one of the few household names when it comes to the LD industry, Saxton proved why time and time again his lighting work is a force to be reckoned with.
As Tribe played the opening chords of “Poseidon,” the room erupted in cheers. Veterans were delighted to have this rare gem performed, especially after the “Blu Mood” that preceded it. Following the joyful reggae segment of the song, the band dropped into its anthemic synthesizer-heavy breakdown, and as the crescendos built, the energy in the room only became more enthusiastic.
The first set drew to a close with a mesmerizing “Unquestionable Supremacy Of Nature.” This song was an unexpected delight for many, drawing from older material and focusing heavily on the earlier days of jamtronica. The repeated use of samples and hip-hop drum beats sent the room into a frenzy. As they left for the smoking patio during set break, fans were left to wonder how on earth STS9 could top that last set.
The band began set two with “Hidden Hand, Hidden Fist,” continuing their focus on older material while still weaving in tracks from their most recent album. This song highlighted the band’s signature attributes to newcomers, relying on their spellbinding synthesizers, commanding guitar presence, intense drums and grounding bass. Hunter Brown’s closing guitar section left many with their eyes closed, grooving along to their own cosmic light show.
The final five-song section of the show was an eclectic and encapsulating presentation from Tribe’s entire catalog, featuring “Kamuy,” “King Pharoah’s Tomb,” “EHM,” and “The Rabble.” This section had all the moments fans look for from STS9, including heavy synthesized elements, electric bass rhythms, and oscillating guitar. “The Rabble” was sandwiched in between two dynamic versions of “EHM,” keeping with the night’s theme of high energy and ambient interludes.
You could feel the nostalgia permeating through the crowd when the band encored with “Circus” to end the night. The song began with its subtle guitar crescendo consistently building into the delightful groove that had everyone dancing, hugging, and walking away with smiles on their faces.
Set I: When the Dust Settles, Oil & Water*, Blu Mood, Poseidon, Sun, Moon, & Stars>> Breathe In, March, The Unquestionable Supremacy Of Nature
Set II: Hidden Hand, Hidden Fist, Totem>> In Due Time>> World Go Round, Kamuy, King Pharaoh’s Tomb, EHM>> The Rabble>> EHM; Encore: Circus
* – Water part included