Brooklyn Comes Alive returned to the Brooklyn Mirage, located in Brooklyn, NY's East Williamsburg neighborhood last Saturday night featuring diverse genres and heavy hitters from the jamband scene. Jamtronica icons Sound Tribe Sector 9 headlined the event, along with Lettuce, Medeski Martin & Wood, and the first ever performance by Cool Cool Cool. The full range of sound and video projection at the Mirage created a sensory pleasing immersive environment that facilitated plenty of smiles, and of course, dancing.
The festivities were began with Cool Cool Cool, which included seven members from the incredibly funky, albeit now defunct Brooklyn based band, Turkuaz. Saturday's show marked the first time that this group assembled together on stage, and the magic was certainly there from the start. Singers Shira Elias and Sammi Garett led the charge with their spot on vocals and energetic vibrancy. The rest of the band included guitarist/keyboardist Craig Broadhead, drummer Michelangelo Carubba, saxophonist Greg Sanderson, and trumpeter/keyboardist Chris Brouwers, along with guests bassist Nate Edgar and guitarist Collin Miller.
Cool Cool Cool delivered deliciously funky songs that got the crowd dancing early on during this jam packed night of music. One of two notable covers included "Don't Do It" by the Band, with Elias and Garett singing together harmoniously through this well known chorus. This flaming hot set closed out with Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain."
The avant jazz groove artist Medeski Martin & Wood took the stage next, and for the first time since 2019, with organist John Medeski, bassist Chris Wood and drummer Billy Martin. This trailblazing NYC squad originally came together in 1991, and emerged into the jam scene in 1995 after playing with Phish. Their musicianship and sense of harmonic adventure was as strong as ever last Saturday, as they delivered their signature inventive improvisation that included jazz, funk and hip hop.
The band did not disappoint, playing multiple tunes from their uber tasty 2000 release The Dropper, including a set opening "Philly Cheese Blunt," as well as "Shacklyn Knights." The melodic "Last Chance to Dance Trance" from their 1995 album Friday Afternoon in the Universe found it's way into the mix. The band dropped into a deep groove for "Start-Stop," from another late 90's release, Combustication. We can only hope that this clever trio reassembles once again, much sooner than later.
The jazz vibes rolled on as Lettuce took the stage next. The larger than life sound and visuals at the Mirage kicked into high gear as this band brought their blend of jazz, funk, hip hop and r&b to a fired up crowd. The Boston based squad included the full line up of drummer/producer Adam Deitch, guitarist Adam Schmirnoff, keyboardist Nigel Hall, bassist Eric Coomes, saxophonist Ryan Zoidis, and trumpeter Eric "Benny" Bloom.
The set began with an illuminated Lettuce logo behind the band, which over time transitioned to visuals that traversed the screens that stretched past the length of the large stage. The band brought two heated r&b covers that sandwiched a fiery original with "Family Affair" by Sly and the Family Stone transitioning into "Let it Go Go" and "Everybody Want to Rule the World" by Tears for Fears. Coomes' booming bass and Deitch's spot on drums could be felt from every corner of the Mirage. This venue's sound system brought immense depth to their already full sound, which made their set even more enjoyable.
Brooklyn Comes Alive saved the best for last, with the post rock dance music titans, Sound Tribe Sector 9. This band last visited the NYC metro area almost three years ago to the day at the Brooklyn Mirage on September 20, 2019. The venue upgraded their sound and audiovisuals significantly in that time, which only benefited this Santa Cruz, Ca based EDM squad. The quintet consisted of drummer Zach Velmer, guitarist Hunter Brown, bassist Alana Rocklin, keyboardist David Phipps, and percussionist Jeffree Lerner.
STS9's set included a mix of old and new songs, and touched many genres, from funk to hip hop and deep house. New tune "Big Basin" kicked off the two hour set. The rarely played old tune "Frequencies Peace 1" followed, and was last played Feburary 16, 2020. This transitioned into the more common classics "Frequencies Peace 2" and "Frequencies Peace 3." Two newer songs followed with "Like I Do" and "Menacer," which flowed exquisitely into "Arigato." This formerly hip hop inspired tune was slowed down and reworked into a smooth funk trance. As the band headed into the signature notes, Velmer raised his arms into the air, inviting the crowd to follow his lead.
At this point, images from city scapes, nature and many of STS9's albums traversed the screens behind the band. Most notably, the artwork from their unequivocally stellar 2004 release Artifact, which contains outlines of people, recurred as a backdrop. Vintage tune "Move My Peeps," led by the one two punch of Velmer and Rocklin, launched into the best twenty musical minutes from the evening. The Artifact imagery as well as visuals of a dual setting sun raced across the screens behind the band. A flawless segue into "New Forms," which is a cover by Roni Size & Reprazent, eventually led back into a high energy wrap up of "Move My Peeps." "New Forms" was last played live on December 28, 2019.
Another older synth heavy tune, "Potamus," jumped into the set, followed by the uplifting dance tune "20-12." Images of rocket ships, along with the classic sts9 logo, launched the crowd to the moon during this feel good sequence. This outstanding set closed out with one last jam sandwich, starting with the hip hop influenced original "Be Nice." This melded nicely into "Scheme," from their 2011 release When the Dust Settles, with electrifying sounds from Brown on the guitar. The show ended on an extremely high note as the band jettisoned into another mid 2000's hip hop flavored dance tune, "Rent." The crowd was absolutely thirsty for more, despite the time being 2:45am. Velmer took the mic to express gratitude to the crowd and threw his drumsticks to a lucky audience member, as the old school Sound Tribe Santa Cruz logo displayed behind the stage.
The sixth installment of Brooklyn Comes Alive brought pure delight and plenty of dancing to those who were able to attend. This annual affair highlights artists plus the vibrant musical community behind the jam scene, and was certainly one for the ages. NYC looks forward to the next iteration of this truly special event.
Sound Tribe Sector 9 Set
Big Basin > Frequencies Peace 1 > 2 > 3, Like I Do, Menacer > Arigato, Move My Peeps > New Forms1 > Move My Peeps, Potamus, 20-12, Be Nice, Scheme > Rent
1. Roni Size & Reprazent