STS9 | 12.28 - 12.31 | Atlanta

Words by: Stratton Lawrence | Images by: Aaron Williams

STS9 :: 12.28.07 - 12.31.2007 :: The Tabernacle :: Atlanta, GA

STS9 :: 12.31.07 :: Atlanta
Flask of Makers for the lot? Check. Guy in a patchwork cape with "Womp Womp" emblazoned across it? Oh yeah. Cab on two wheels with a driver who looks over and says, "Drive it 'til the wheels fall off!" Scarily enough, yes. Party glasses? Hell yeah. The last time I got this excited on New Year's Eve it involved George Clinton, a full marching band emerging from a mini BMW and Trey Anastasio yelling, "Feel, feel, feel my heat!"

I've been in Atlanta for every annual turnover since those four Phishy nights in Miami, and each year I've been blown away to the point that I keep planning my trek back to The Tabernacle. Maybe it's the venue, where I watched liquor bottles shake off the balcony bar during 2005's "Tap In." The old church is definitely conducive to moving the spirit. Maybe it's knowing that STS9 is home, fresh off Christmas with their families, ready to go balls out with old friends. Mostly, it's knowing that if I'd been anywhere else, I'd have missed something better.

The three-night buildup going into New Year's Eve got bigger and better every show. By the "Luma Daylight," "Tokyo," "Breathe In" second set on the 28th, it was clear they wanted us to feel, feel, feel that special heat. When that night's "Circus" encore seemed to peter out at the end, the perception was they were saving juice for the long haul rather than cashing out early.

David Murphy - STS9 :: 12.31.07 :: Atlanta
That assumption proved correct. If night two was a full-on dance party, the 30th was a full-body explosive assault. Sometime during "Evasive Maneuvers" I realized I was seeing the best light show I'd ever seen at any event, ever. This year's setup featured an LED strip circling the band, which stood amidst spinning pinwheels, raindrops that danced and five massive vertical beams behind the stage. No less than 50 multicolored, strategically placed beams were layered all the way to the ceiling.

After watching the lights churn into a strobe frenzy during the "Baraka" encore on night three (arguably the crowd/band energy high point of the weekend), I thought about the thrill the band must get from looking out at thousands of people moving in undulating unison - most hands in the air, people hanging precariously over the balconies and all with ecstatic smiles stretched across their faces.

"Y'all been blowin' it up in here," said bassist David Murphy as the band took the stage on night four. They proceeded to drop a set that constantly jumped between meandering melodies and heavy beats. "986 Foot Tall Trees" set the mood as David Phipps built up a keyboard crescendo before moving into a fairly chill "Pianoir" and "We'll Meet in our Dreams." As the lights pulsed through an eye-boggling rainbow during "Dreams," the band hit a step that carried into a groove-party "Hi-Key" and an even hotter "Move My Peeps." Set break began with Murph saying, "We thought we'd smooth y'all in," and promised things would get rowdy.

Lerner & Brown - STS9 :: 12.31.07 :: Atlanta
And "rowdy" is the only word for what followed. The synth bass on "Instantly" got downright dirty, and "Monkey Music" featured the night's funkiest improv. The breakdown on "Really Wut" hit hard, and "Kaya" soared before a set-ending new song that featured guitarist Hunter Brown on a roving scale with the band rocking as hard as they could behind the melody.

After a sample-heavy "Unquestionable Supremacy of Nature," Murph led the countdown to 2008, saying, "Running this thing in our own time because we live in our own time." White balloons and a frenetic light explosion gave way to another debut led by Brown playing a beautiful arpeggio-filled melody. Both new tunes show plenty of promise and will likely grow into more elaborate pieces.

For the home stretch, the band dropped the dirtiest "Lo Swaga" I've ever heard, followed by an "Arigato" that slipped seamlessly into a "Blu Mood" that peaked twice. The "Rent," "One A Day," "Be Nice" trio that closed the set was full-on foot floating, dance party madness.

The encore, "Inspire Strikes Back," may not have been a hard guess but as a closer to four ridiculous nights it was perfect. The lights strobed and erupted, drummer Zach Velmer gave his tom a frenzied beating, and Phipps got down on the keys like the world was ending.

A couple of hours into 2008, as I sat on the corner soaking in the pure fire I'd absorbed over four consecutive nights, a dreaded smiling hippie walked past me, then turned back to put a crystal into my hand without a word. I clutched the shining rock in my palm and realized whatever changes time brings to STS9, the spirit behind the music remains constant.

My first STS9 show was at The Tabernacle just before Christmas 2001. On the drive back to Charleston on New Year's Day 2008, I realized that NYE had been my 25th Sound Tribe show. They've evolved and grown to levels that left me awestruck several times over this run, and I was craving more by the time we crossed the Georgia line. STS9 continues to redefine the crowd/band/environment relationship, and after this week it's clear they're ready to graduate to bigger venues while maintaining the same intimate intensity they've worked so hard to cultivate. I swore the walls of The Tabernacle would explode outward several times over the run, and you can bet I'll be there the first time that Sector 9 lifts off at Hampton Coliseum.

STS9 :: 12.31.07 :: Atlanta

Set 1: Music, Us, 986 Foot Tall Trees, Pianoir, We'll Meet In Our Dreams, Hi-Key, Move My Peeps
Set 2: Instantly, Monkey Music, Really Wut?, Kaya, Untitled
Set 3: The Unquestionable Supremacy of Nature, Untitled (NYE countdown), Lo Swaga, Arigato > Blu Mood, Rent, One a Day, Be Nice
Encore: Inspire Strikes Back

Set 1: Moon Socket > Hubble, Wika Chikana, H. B. Walks to School, Four Year Puma, Tap-In, Quests, Evasive Maneuvers
Set 2: Tooth, This Us, Grow > Open E, Peoples, Aimlessly
Encore: Baraka

Set 1: Ghobi, Big Little Scenario > Abcees, Kamuy, Once Told, You Don't Say, Mobsters > Surreality > EB
Set 2: GLOgli, Bigs, Somesing, Dem Be, Ramone & Emiglio, From Now On
Encore: Dance

Set 1: Musical Story, Yes > The Rabble > F. Word, ReEmergence, STS9, Warrior, Untitled, Mischief of a Sleepwalker
Set 2: 1103, Luma Daylight > Tokyo, By the Morning Sun > Orbital, Breathe In
Encore: Circus

Continue reading for more images of STS9 on NYE... Images by: Aaron Williams

12.31.07 :: The Tabernacle :: Atlanta, GA

Continue reading for even more images of STS9 on NYE... Images by: Brandon Merkley

12.31.07 :: The Tabernacle :: Atlanta, GA

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wilson021 starstarstarstarstar Tue 1/8/2008 01:08PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Bonified Bad Ass!

tourfan starstarstarstarstar Tue 1/8/2008 01:21PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

"I said, Yea, Yea, Yea, Atlanta, I got to get back to you." Bill Payne of Little Feat.

There is always SOOO much going on in Hotlanta on NYE. How I miss you ATL.

tourfan starstarstarstarstar Tue 1/8/2008 01:30PM
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P.S. Excellent review. Excellent Pics. Thanks for sharing the joy fellas. I do indeed miss ya ATL. Panic at Phillips, The Tab, The Fox, The Variety. P-Groovers all of ya. I will get back to ya, I promise.

samtarmstrong Tue 1/8/2008 01:54PM
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Shit was dirty. Really dirty. See ya'll next year.

BooneRes starstarstarstarstar Tue 1/8/2008 02:45PM
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Great review that made me smile from beginning to end! What a magical and almost unexplainable weekend!

sven2388 Tue 1/8/2008 02:46PM
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STS9 will not be doing new years at the tabby next year. straight from saxton

AZ~*Droo* starstarstarstarstar Tue 1/8/2008 03:03PM
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^^^maybe a little west coast luv next year huh?

example1 Tue 1/8/2008 03:26PM
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what???!?! no stage crystals????

fsu420 starstarstarstarstar Tue 1/8/2008 03:26PM
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you west coasters get plenty! keep this party southeast for the kids. great review great run. no mention of IEV being played in its entirety or did i miss that? dirty old school first set 3rd night.....

BunnyLove starstarstarstarstar Tue 1/8/2008 03:37PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


This is a great review! My first time seeing these guys was in 04 at the Tabby, and I've been hooked ever since. It really makes me sad that they've outgrown the venue, but it speaks volumes about their progression. Is anybody from Hampton or around there? The coliseum is about 600 miles from where I live...weak sauce! Oh, and my friend Bobby was the wompster with the cape. If y'all have facebook check out the group "Somebpdy Womp these Fools". Peace and love guys, see ya at Sector real soon. :)

Hug Tue 1/8/2008 03:51PM
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I believe the overall consensus is that the band truly transcended to the next era of their evolution over the last year and finally culminated at the Tabernacle. 2008 is going to be the hot shit, I can't wait to see everyone at the next shows!

PS Hampton NYE 2008!!!

drudas99 Tue 1/8/2008 04:03PM
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Good Call on HAMPTON!!!!!!

DJ Saturday Baxter Tue 1/8/2008 04:32PM
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DJ Saturday Baxter

sick review. looks like it was a dance party!

i got my groove on in Miami with SUENALO.

Foominaut starstarstarstarstar Tue 1/8/2008 05:44PM
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what is the story behind these crystals everyone talks about....I'm not really familiar with the STS9 scene

ScIFreak Tue 1/8/2008 07:14PM
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I'd love to see STS9 sell out Hampton..... It's never gonna happen...

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/9/2008 05:47AM
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‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

this is so far away from 1994. Its been very interesting to see this band evolve over the years. I remember when they wanted to call all their songs "movements". I also remember when tickets were 5 dollars and they had great warehouse parties in ATL. My most memorable show was chattanooga tennessee 1994 with only about 25 people in the whole bar. Only me and one other dude danced and got into it,while the rest of the bar patrons stood around. :)

stukinkendall starstar Wed 1/9/2008 06:45AM
Show -8 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
Designagroove starstarstarstar Wed 1/9/2008 08:22AM
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great review sounds like STS9 really puts on a great one. Dont think that i would have wanted to miss gettin my grove on with umph in chi town tho.

mweezy777 Wed 1/9/2008 08:41AM
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Stukinkendall - he said it was the best light show HE had ever would you know whether that was true or not....All in all one hell of a run....I mean interplanetary escape vehicle in its entirety on the 30th was the icing on an already stellar set of shows. And the lights were completely off the my pics i count 13 led light strips not including the large one circling the band or the 2 around phipps and zach....and forget the led strips, the strobes and other lights added more than all of those combined. Someone put it best when they said at redrocks Saxton landed a spaceship, at new years he showed us inside. Great times and great people = STS9 ....nice review

hnkscrpio Wed 1/9/2008 10:03AM
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Looks like that was a wonderful time. Set two on new year's looks like it would have been my favorite. I can totally see how they could tie those three together. Although I had a great time at the 30th and 31st Umphrey's shows, I'd hate to say it, but something inside me would have rather been at sound tribe or bisco. But those were some killer shows.

greengrass starstarstar Wed 1/9/2008 10:22AM
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I thought the band was on top of there game. It seems to me that they have spent the last 3 years trying to achieve something more digital than their past and they have finally evolved into what they have been working so hard for. Even though I still think 2003 was there best year yet but they have evolved musically.

The light were the best light show I have ever seen or imagined to see.

My biggest complaint was it was so hot in the venue on the 28th over 100° for sure that I could not be in the building for the second set without feeling like passing out and I think this complaint falles directly on the back of the Venue trying to sell more beers during sold out shows. Come on we paid good $ to be at these shows at least turn the heat off... Shame on the Tabranacle......

lagerber starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/9/2008 11:06AM
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We've already had multiple 9 dance parties at my house reliving those magical nights....

gmoo Wed 1/9/2008 11:08AM
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ThePaste starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/9/2008 12:29PM
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Great reveiw, those four nights in ATL were epic, can't wait for 08 tour to get started!

Rainking04 starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/9/2008 12:44PM
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ahh what a beautiful place and time...can't say i've seen a more impressive light show myself, the space ship analogy definitely works for me. what's great about the tabby is that there are moments when EVERYONE in that place knows why he/she is there, to love the music and love each other. I don't go to church too often but I think a couple of nights in ATL can be spiritual enough to get you through the year.

ps great intimate/ detailed review, but i can't believe you didn't mention IEV??

carphishhead starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/9/2008 09:39PM
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Heady energy crystals brah.

henahan Thu 1/10/2008 01:22PM
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i wandered over to the lot at the tabernacle and immediately was subjected to seeing three arrests within ten minutes of each other. i hope this scene can learn to semi-police itself, something phish was never able to accomplish. more arrests = more cops = more arrests = more cops and on and on..... good luck with that.

Dane! starstarstarstarstar Fri 1/11/2008 10:48AM
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That was a great write up. And fantastic pictures as always, Mr. Aaron!!! The last 4 days of the year in ATL were just epic. Music everywhere. I can't wait til next year.

whoknowswhy Sat 1/12/2008 06:55AM
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Milesgone you lying retard STS9 wasnt even a band in 1994. You must have been the headiest brah in an empty room. Lay off the jenkem.

Zapzapa Sun 1/13/2008 01:38AM
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milesgone what are you talking about??? Sound Tribe Sector9 was not a band yet a band in 1994, the past year 2007 was their tenth year as a band nad whenthey first started out it was just three of them, I don't know who you think you saw in 94 but it wasn't Sector9

foadser Sun 1/13/2008 03:13AM
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I Want to like this band.... but i dont get it.

jesposito starstarstarstarstar Sun 1/13/2008 01:40PM
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awesome review and pictures... shit looks sickkkk!! lets get some more reviews like this one!

cole0795 Tue 1/15/2008 12:16PM
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foadster...if you ever do get it in the future there is no turning back and you will find it hard to listen to anything else, good luck to ya cuz its an amazing experience

amazing weekend, tribe is so on point these days i cant go a month without seeing them...see you in CO!!

Mason starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/16/2008 05:33PM
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foadser... i know exactly what you mean, i used to be in the same boat even after several shows. but i must say that after the tabernacle i do get it. cole is right, it's an amazing experience.

thetribe Sat 1/26/2008 11:35AM
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Peep the videos from this:

BooneRes Tue 1/29/2008 07:52PM
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all 4 nites are up on!

Great review once again