Sound Tribe Sector 9 made their triumphant return to the Somerville Theatre last night and played to a packed room of very excited East Coast heads. Unfortunately we on the East Coast don't get to enjoy 9 love as often as we would like, so it is always a special occasion when the Tribe is in town. You can cut the excitement in the air with a knife. Tonight was no different.

The band started out very sharp. They were obviously feeling good tonight. In the first set Zach(drums) and Jeffree(percussion) seemed to be especially energetic. These two can really communicate with each other quite well. Tonight we were treated to some really wonderful drum solos. Zach was really feeling it and would just start pounding on his kit in the middle of a song and start up a drum solo. Right after that Jeffree would zero in on the beat and make his contribution. Jeffree is a master of the congas and gets some interesting sounds out of them. The rest of the band would tend to kind of feel what Zach wanted to do and go off and allow him to do what he wanted. While there is no clear cut leader of this band, it definitely seems they take a lot of cues from Zach, although that changes nightly. These guys are always excited to play, but somehow tonight seemed special. There seemed to be a real party vibe going on. That's when the funk began.

I've seen Sector 9 bring the funk before but not like tonight. They must have been feeling especially funky because they started and never looked back. Dave Murphy was bringing some serious bass lines and Hunter was ripping it up on the guitar. They would start up a song real funky and slow and keep building it up. Before you knew it Zach would drop the breakbeat and the chaos would begin. Then after they built it up and built it up, you could literally feel a wave come over the audience and the slow funk would start up again. It really is amazing the way this band melts styles into one another. I can't name another band that can sound like an offshoot of Parliament one second and then I'm listening to DJ Spooky or something. However, their style of funk is all their own. Like everything else they do they somehow give it their own distinctive Sector 9 style.

It is sometimes tough to tell who is making what sound. Each player has at least one toy they can play with to alter the sound of their instrument and use for effects. Jeffree has an effects pad that he, at one point, seemed to be playing like it was just another conga. Zach has an electronic addition to his drum kit that he can tap and get lots of sound effects from. And I had never seen it until this show, but Hunter actually has a computer next to him, complete with a monitor and keyboard. These guys are single handedly bringing the future to music and there is no limit to where they will take it. That's part of the reason these guys are so exciting to see live.

After the intermission as the band was getting on the stage someone yelled out "bring back the funk," and they certainly did. They started playing and picked up right where they left off. Breakbeat, funk, jungle, organica, whatever you want to call it, they do it all. And the crowd was really letting them know. I love it when the crowds in Boston come out and show their support and are really loud. I want all the bands to know that Boston is a great place to come and play. I feel like if we're loud enough and fill the room up enough, all these great bands are going to keep coming back and play Boston more often because of us. I think Sector 9 could really feel the love and hopefully they'll come back within just a few months this time, and not 8,9 or 12 months from now. Of course I realize they're busy guys, but the East Coast really misses them when they're gone for too long.

They were really having a good time tonight. In the middle of this funk brigade they played a song, I don't know the name, and I swear I almost could hear horns coming from the stage. It just felt like time had stopped and there was a party going on for the enlightened people, including the Tribe, that were inside that room. The band says that everyone contributes to the music, and I really believe them. There's lots of bands that say "we play off the audience" and "we couldn't do this without the audience," etc., but when you are at a Sector 9 show you know that's true. Everyone in the room is in sync with the band and each other. When the band reaches a climax everyone in the room oohs and ahhs at the same time. When a layer of sound washes over our heads we all know it. You can kind of look up and check things out and know that everyone just felt what you felt and saw what you saw. That's the beauty of the 9. They unite everyone and bring everyone closer together, if only for a few hours. When you leave a Sector 9 show you leave feeling damn good and tonight was no exception to the rule.

Sam Katz
JamBase | Beantown
Go See Live Music!

[Published on: 3/30/02]

Take full advantage of all JamBase has to offer by signing up for an account!

You'll receive

show alerts

when your favorite artists announce shows, be eligible to enter contests for

free tickets

, gain the ability to

share your personalized live music calendar

and much more. Join JamBase!