Words by: Nick Boeka :: Images by Dave Vann
STS9 :: 10.31.2007 :: Warfield Theatre :: San Francisco, CA
Halloween began like many other costume-related holidays in San Francisco, a week early. With the ghoulishly festive holiday falling on hump day this year, the city was alive with the celebration of all things sexy, living and dead alike. Making their second consecutive sold-out appearance at The Warfield Theatre, Santa Cruz's Sound Tribe Sector 9 invited fans to participate in a "Day of the Dead" themed evening. Joining STS9 were tour companions The Glitch Mob, who provided an opening slot and set break beats. The STS9 production team also threw an after party event at the nearby 1015 Folsom that kept the party raging until the early morning hours.
| STS9 :: 10.31.07 :: San Francisco|
Since San Francisco is a city where costumes are a normal part of everyday life, events like Halloween have even more meaning, where everyone feels comfortable joining in, even those who go super extreme. The Warfield sits on the seedy edges nearing the downtown financial district with all the hustle and bustle of the cars, buses and cable cars whizzing by. The typical pre-show activities happen right in front of the venue's doors. In any other city there would be an element of "freaking out the squares" involved with a few hundred people extravagantly and scantily dressed standing downtown on a Wednesday night. In San Francisco, it barely gets a nod.
The lights dimmed and the five members of STS9 took the stage all dressed in black. They launched into the relatively new original "1103." The set turned out to be a healthy mix of common, new and seldom played material. Other highlights included the strong jammed combo of "Aimlessly" wrapped around a moving "Nautilus." Throughout, I found myself focusing on the visuals of Saxton's light show, which gets better and better each tour, and the onstage paintings by Kris-D and J. Garcia. Both their styles are so distinct with Garcia a master of steady wrist control.
The evening boasted a strong performance from keyboardist David Phipps, who took command of the band several times. I always marvel at the way he works behind his various stations. Drum machine Zach Velmer also carried the energy of the evening, as he typically does, on his four limbs. He is the epitome of a human loop machine on the kit, and his precision has gotten tighter and tighter, allowing him to lead the long tension-and-release type climaxes STS9 often utilizes.
| The Glitch Mob :: 10.31.07 :: San Francisco|
At set break, many scoured the venue for friends, made time for new encounters, and seized the only viable drinking times without missing the show. One of the downsides of the venue is the no drink policy in the balcony. It typically isn't an issue for most people, but on evenings like this one, it seemed to be a problem for many and likely explained why the balcony never really filled up.
The Glitch Mob, comprised of Ooah, edIT, Boreta and Kraddy, threw down their mix of glitch, breaks and trip-hop to the S.F. crowd during the break. This unique style of electronica is starting to take a stronger hold, with other West Coast artists like Bassnectar dipping this way. What makes Glitch Mob impressive is three guys contributing different beats, effects and samples while a fourth guy mixes all of their material in real time. I saw some getting down hard, others trying to get into it and the people near me just couldn't get into it all night. "Too much start and stopping to get into the beat" is what I've been told by some friends who I've tried to introduce to this type of emerging sound. I like the spontaneity, and sonically I think it's really well rounded, in-your-face electronic music.
| David Phipps - STS9 :: 10.31.07 :: San Francisco|
Shortly after Glitch Mob was done and packing up their gear for the after-show, STS9 took the stage once more. Bassist David Murphy thanked the crowd for returning for another year, and they began with crowd favorite "Rent," then "Rabble" into "Moon Socket," which started the most disjointed part of the night. Midway through the set, I felt they lost the crowd and the energy they'd spent most of the evening trying to create.
At the end of the encore, which featured "Abcees" which transitioned into an ill placed "Lo Swaga," I started thinking about the show, and couldn't help but feel a little disappointed. It simply felt like any other show. The first set started off with good energy and had the potential of being something special, but it never went anywhere from there and eventually sizzled by evening's end. Even the band looked tired and seemed to be kinda going through the motions. Playing two nights in Vegas a few days before probably did not help the situation, and while I haven't heard any recordings of those performances yet, I hope they were a little more spirited.
Set 1: 1103, One a Day, Hi-Key, Aimlessly > Nautilus > Aimlessly, Inspire Strikes Back, Really Wut?, Mobsters, Surreality > EB
Set 2: Rent, The Rabble, Moon Socket, Be Nice, The Unquestionable Supremacy of Nature, Tooth, Orbital
Encore: Abcees, Lo Swaga
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