Words by: Stratton Lawrence :: Images by: Kevin Quinn
Re:Generation :: 07.06.07 & 07.07.07 :: Deerfields, NC
Like the touring giants who preceded them on the jamband scene, Sound Tribe Sector 9, perhaps more than any other band currently playing in the U.S., has a clearly identifiable scene. From the flat-brimmed hats to the crystal wraps, the Tribe faithful descended on North Carolina this weekend in full force, spreading mostly kind vibes that helped make it a quintessential STS9 event.
Dave Murphy - STS9 :: Re:Generation
"Captivate. Rejuvenate. Regenerate," the girl standing next to me whispered into my ear before yelling, "I just want to dance!" So went the mood of Re:Generation last weekend at Deerfields, the mountainous, intimate venue that STS9 chose to host their gathering of kindred souls just outside Asheville, N.C. From epic performances by STS9 and the Benevento/Russo Duo to the optical joys of paintings by Kris D and J. Garcia, there was plenty of food for the mind and soul.
Deerfields is a small enough venue that they wisely limited the number of cars allowed onto the grounds. Most festival-goers left their vehicles in a designated field a mile out, then caught a ride on an open-air bus operated by Asheville's LaZoom tours. Wildly decorated in gold trim, vintage black and white photographs and painted bright purple, the bus traveled up a narrow dirt road with branches and leaves reaching in and brushing riders. Johnny Cash played on the speakers, anticipation was high.
It was 8 p.m. when we arrived and STS9 would take the stage for their opening set within the hour. Time was of the essence, so we quickly set up camp around the lower pond. Deerfields has two ponds, both fit for swimming, with the main stage set between them. Our waterfront spot staked, we headed up to the show just in time to catch the opening riffs of "From Now On" followed by a new song, "Tooth."
"Moonsocket" came early, the classic pocket groover that returned to heavy rotation in 2006. It wasn't as hard-hitting a version as the band dropped on New Years in Atlanta, but they expertly segued it into "So It Goes," a new song whose fan-chosen name coincided with author Kurt Vonnegut's recent passing. "GLOgli" and "Rent" both got huge reactions from the crowd, but it was the "Twilight" and "Inspire Strikes Back" encores that solidified the evening and left everyone eager for day two, and far from ready for sleep.
After a last minute cancellation by Prefuse 73, organizers booked The Join for a late night set on Friday, including both Marco Benevento and Joe Russo of the Duo and drummer Darren Shearer and keyboardist Jamie Shields of the New Deal. Having never performed together prior to Re:Generation, the group took a couple songs to warm up but quickly found their rhythm. It's difficult to describe the sonic explosion that occurs when two drummers and two keyboardists - one of which is Benevento playing his insane organ contraption - come together to rock as hard as they can, but it was indeed fantastic. STS9 bassist David Murphy came out for most of the show, dropping low-end bombs that aptly rounded out the high frequency tweaking from the organs.
Join :: Re:Generation
After a hobo breakfast of peanut butter, honey, and bananas (Eggs? Check. Stove? Check. Frying pan? Damn!), I enjoyed one of the finest aspects of Deerfields by jumping in the cool pond water to rid me of a lingering hangover. Deerfields borders the Pisgah National Forest, and trails lead from the camping area up the "Big Hill" or along a creek that flows through the property. We chose .the creek trail for our morning hike, wandering through rhododendron bushes in full bloom and searching for salamanders in the clear flowing water. After a refreshing walk in the woods, we returned just in time for STS9 to kick off Saturday's music with a 2 p.m. set.
Brown & Lerner - STS9 :: Re:Generation
Sound Tribe is a nighttime band if there ever was one, complete with lights and beats tailor made for late night dance parties. No one I spoke with had ever even seen them in the daytime but by the opening strains of the beautiful "Circus" they'd convinced me of their ability to amaze solely with their music. There were no strobes over the stage to send LSD-filled minds soaring, just organic, electronic music.
Including "Peoples" and brain numbing closer "Tokyo," the afternoon set was my favorite of the weekend. I'd heard rumors about drummer Zach Velmer's wrist giving him trouble lately, but he showed no signs of injury. Taking control of the hip swaying "Wika Chikana" and "Luma Daylight," Velmer demonstrated he's still a machine with no plans to slow down.
Telefon Tel Aviv :: Re:Generation 2007
STS9 has grown into a group sound. There are no solos or lingering leads, and they're so tight in the pocket that a simple embellishment by Murph in between phrases is enough to send the crowd roaring and fists pumping the air. I'd have liked to see more guest appearances over the weekend but they've likely realized that adding to their unit sacrifices cohesiveness.
Natalie Walker followed STS9 with a set of jazzy, sultry crooning on the lakeside stage, after which Telefon Tel Aviv played a set advertised as having a full band. The DJs added a guitarist to their mix but he did little to complement their polished sound.
Athens ruled the evening, with Georgia products Grogus and Dubconscious holding down enthusiastic groups of dancing fans. Singer Shelley Olin rounded out Dubconscious' set with her energetic backing vocals, and the band put on a perfect sundown easy skankin' fest.
Benevento, Murphy, Russo :: Re:Generation
By the time STS9 took the stage at midnight on Saturday, half the crowd was clearly near exhaustion, reclined on the hill overlooking the stage. For those still on their feet down in front, energy was anything but low. "Move My Peeps," "Ramone & Emiglio" and "Open E" all had moments of hands-in-the-air, full-on rocking out. Richard Devine joined the band in the second set, bringing the crowd almost to the boiling point. The "Baraka" STS9 brought for the first encore blew the lid off, and even tired feet were floating off the ground.
At 3:15 a.m. I dragged my tired body over to the lakeside stage and planted myself in front for The Duo. What followed was undoubtedly the best music I heard all weekend. Hitting up the highlights from their flawless Play Pause Stop album, as well as older tunes like "My Pet Goat" and "Becky," their wee hour set had every awake jaw at Re:Generation scraping the floor. Benevento makes his B-3 sound like a full band, and Russo was born to drum with him. From teasing Led Zeppelin to drunken-sounding banter between songs, the pair played hard, bringing enough energy to lift the tired souls to their feet for a little while longer.
Zach Velmer :: Re:Generation 2007
After one last swim, it was a sad farewell to pack up on Sunday. Any festival at Deerfields has a summer camp feel, followed by the mild depression of parting with new friends and a beautiful, sacred spot. At the end of their final set, STS9 bassist Dave Murphy thanked the crowd, saying, "Let's do it again next year."
Sometime during their first set on Friday, I looked around at the hipped-out kids around me, hats cocked sideways, eyes glazed over, and bodies jerking violently with the music, and thought to myself that I might be growing out of this scene. I was, after all, the dude in a collared shirt. Then I popped a Magic Hat bottle cap with the words "Imbibe with your Tribe" printed on the bottom. And so I did. By the time they struck into "Aimlessly" later that night, I remembered why they're my favorite live band. STS9 gets it. Deerfields has got it. With that combination, everyone present was getting it, too, and for 48 hours, Re:Generation was very much alive.
JamBase | North Carolina
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