Great Cycle Spectacle: Boston 11.1.12
25 Nov 2012

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Winds up to 75 miles per hour ravaged the Northeast as storm swells 12 feet high pushed the sea over the coast. Hurricane Sandy devastated the region, laying waste to neighborhoods across New York and New Jersey, and leaving thousands without power or trapped in flooded areas. Such was the scene on the last week of the long-awaited STS9 Great Cycle Spectacles Fall Tour. Those living in the Boston area were fortunately less affected by the storm, and so it was back to business as usual on Thursday night when Sound Tribe arrived at the House of Blues.

Eager fans lined up along Landsowne Street to get into the venue, but whether for their first or tenth time at an STS9 show, most had no idea the magnitude of the Great Cycle Spectacle that was in store for them. Good vibes and anticipation were thick in the cool night air.

As I was making my way inside, I could hear the Activation of the Great Pyramid screen, like some immense futuristic machine array powering up ominously. An eerie, yet pleasant high-pitched voice arose from the speakers, telling us that everything in the universe has a purpose, and that an invisible intelligence flows through everything, giving us all incredible powers of imagination and will. These powerful life-affirming messages are what I always thought Sound Tribe was really about.

After the introduction, Tribe kicked off with a calm and steady rendition of T.W.E.L.V.E. Already the crowd was mesmerized. TWELVE, while also a reference to the year 2012, actually stands for Time Within Evolving Living Vehicle Earth, a deep title which resonates with STS9’s oldest ideals. TWELVE is also the name of their 3-Night New Years Run this year in Colorado, which is sure to be an event not to miss, following their December 21st celebration at Mayan Holidaze in Tulum, Mexico.

STS9 shows have always had a special way of seeming to lift me out of normal life and into an epic journey across the universe, and this year’s Spectacular new show was just as effective. As a band that’s been playing for over 10 years, it is amazing to see them reach a whole new level of performance this year. At the Great Cycle Spectacles, the band is arranged in the middle of a huge screen which resembles a Mayan step-pyramid, onto which vivid abstract visuals are projected. At times the members of the band would fade into the surrounding screen, allowing the visuals to blend seamlessly with the music and ambiance.  Invoking the image of the Mayan pyramid also ties back to the band’s original name, Sector 9, which refers to the Cycles of the Mayan Long Count Calandar. It is a fitting theme for their 2012 show, leading up to the historic end of the calendar on December 21st.

The show really picked up as STS9 started the ethereal, jazzy jam that is Move My Peeps. Zach Velmer’s drumming on this song was divinely intricate and lightning fast, kicking into a liquid break-beat, the essence of which no drum machine could replicate. This is highlighted by the fact that the rest of the band maintains an expert minimalism throughout the song, just keeping the same super-chill dynamic that makes the whole audience feel light and airy while dancing to the tight groove.

The song crescendoed and faded into one of my favorite brand new songs, Vapors. The halftime drums and long heavy basslines really make for an entrancing dance floor tune. After Vapors, Tribe hit us with the dark, moody tones of the classic Peoples, followed by an amazingly uplifting Really Wut. The first set concluded with the ever-beautiful Music, Us, which displays David Phipp’s amazing piano skills backed by David Murphy’s funky bass.

As the band took an extended break between long sets, they left the pyramid screen on with visuals to keep the audience mesmerized. They came back to the stage for the heavily electronic When the Dust Settles, and a re-vamped, super-dancy Arigato. Tribe kept the energy high for a hard-rocking Beyond Right Now, followed by an explosive and rare Open E. The revamped Frequencies D&B brought us back to some of the old-school Sound Tribe roots, appropriately followed by Frequencies 2>3 and Kaya. Moonsocket and Unquestionable Supremacy of Nature ended the set, with an encore featuring the peaceful rarity Satori and an old crowd favorite, Aimlessly.

The night was another great success for Sound Tribe Sector 9, with never a dull moment. I was more than satisfied with my seasonal fix of STS9, but still aching to go to New York the for the last two shows, on Friday and Saturday. Unfortunately due to the damage done by Hurricane Sandy, it would be impossible for me to follow through with that plan, as lower Manhattan still lacked electricity and subway service at that point, and there would be no where for me to stay. My heart went out to all those affected by the storm that week, who were still struggling with the aftermath. Hopefully some of those STS9 fans in NYC were able to make it out and be uplifted by this amazing experience.

This review was written by Sparkleberry Contributor Maximus J. Klein.  To review one of your favorite bands, or (almost) anything else for Sparkleberry Lane, please contact SparkleberryLane@gmail.com.

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