STS9 Live PA | 12.13.08 | S.F.

Words by: Zack Sampsel | Images by: Daniel Kokin

Sound Tribe Sector 9 Live PA :: 12.13.08 :: Club 6 :: San Francisco, CA

STS9 Live PA :: 12.13 :: San Francisco
With a 2 a.m. start time and a crowd already glistening in sweat from the previous night's performances, members of Sound Tribe Sector 9 took to the stage for a Live PA set at ArtNowSF's monthly Veni Vidi Vici party and dropped a set of laptop-friendly tracks that showed the crowd where this quintet is headed.

This past summer marked the debut of STS9's latest album Peaceblaster (read the review here), and with it came a huge, co-headlining tour with Umphrey's McGee and a slew of new material ready to be road tested. But for STS9, sometimes the confines of a sold out venue filled with thousands of screaming masses isn't necessarily conducive to heavy exploration of newer material, which is where the Live PA sets serve a greater purpose.

As a full band, there is no way even a scaled down version of STS9 and all their gear could have fit into the sweaty, dank confines of the Club 6 basement, but by performing a Live PA set, meaning all the music is created and played through drum machines, laptops and midi synthesizers, STS9 is able to perform in places they normally could not. As well, the nonstop format of the music during the PA sets allows them to go in-depth on the ambient transitions that surfaced during their fall tour.

Saturday night's set featured only four STS9 members, with percussionist Jeffree Lerner sitting the event out, but that didn't stop David Phipps (keyboards), David Murphy (bass), Hunter Brown (guitar) and Zach Velmer (drums) from putting on a two-hour exploration of the band's latest material.

Opening their set with "The Unquestionable Supremacy of Nature," a Bay Area favorite, it was apparent they were going straight for the jugular. As the squealing highs of "Unquestionable" drew to a close, Phipps and his Axiom 25 Key controller took over as they slid into a mash-up of "Economic Hitman" and Young Joc's "It's Goin' Down," which whipped the crowd into a frenzy as the sounds of dubstep and hip-hop came together to form a thumping symbiosis.

STS9 Live PA :: 12.13
"New New 4 U U," which debuted during the fall tour, followed "Economic Hitman" and gave the crowd its first taste of what the quintet was capable of as the track stretched upward of 10 minutes with Phipps dancing around his keyboard while twisting minds and tempos. But the set really hit stride as the band charged into a remixed version of "Bigs" that barely resembled its full band counterpart.

The improv and on-the-fly remixing continued as the band dropped a chopped up version of "Metameme" no one had heard before. As the soothing, female voice samples from the song drifted away, the haunting tones of "The Rabble" emerged from the glitchy rubble. Just as the reworked version of this crowd favorite reached its peak, the voice of Outkast's Big Boi came through the speakers as Phipps and friends began mixing "The Rabble" with the Outkast's "Royal Flush," which made the floor shake with excitement.

Following a massively extended, spooky version of "Against The Grain Pt. 2," the hip-hop meets reggae vibes of "Abcees" came pounding through the speakers as Phipps and Murphy tinkered in the ambient spaces of the song while Velmer organized the sounds in grand fashion.

The final hour of the set began with "Shock Doctrine" from Peaceblaster, and found the foursome weaving in and out of the composed parts while Phipps fooled around with a number of sounds and effects reminiscent of L.A. Beatsmith Flying Lotus.

As the set drew to a close, a reworked version of "The New Soma" brought the energy in the room back up as STS9 once again explored the ambient spaces within its newer material, layering escalating harmonics with dream-like tones to bridge into a reworked version of "The Spectacle." "Tooth" followed, which had the crowd dancing in unison to its hypnotic tones.

With last call for drinks but a distant memory, STS9 had one more track left as Murphy cued up Ludacris' "One More Drink," paying homage to an evening that left the San Francisco audience wanting more and wiping sweat from their brows.

For STS9 fans in Colorado, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and New York there is plenty more PA fun to be had in January on the band's upcoming Live PA tour.

STS9 Live PA Tour Dates
01.25.09 - Aggie Theatre - Fort Collins, CO
01.26.09 - Bluebird Theater - Denver, CO
01.27.09 - Fox Theatre - Boulder, CO
01.29.09 - The Paradise - Boston, MA
01.30.09 - The Note - West Chester, PA
01.31.09 - Bowery Ballroom - New York, NY

Check out our exclusive feature/interview on STS9 here and be sure to peep our video interview with the Tribe on JamBaseTV.

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[Published on: 12/22/08]

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Deklen Mon 12/22/2008 01:19PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I'd take a live BAND set over a live PA set anytime. ...But you still wouldn't catch me missing this if I lived close.

biscok1d starstarstar Mon 12/22/2008 01:35PM
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for $10 you really can't go wrong - but I was woefully mislead having only seen them play as a band before. It felt very muddied, with too much going on most of the time, though I was dancing my ass of the whole time. Don't mean to be a debbie downer but I'm just critical! I had a great time. I can't wait to see them as a band again but I'll probably skip the next live pa - dj's do the live pa thing much better. Four dj's on laptops at once? live clusterfuck.

also, the dubstep dj that came on before them was sick and seemed like a cool dude also.

RothburyWithCheese star Mon 12/22/2008 01:43PM
Show -5 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
RothburyWithCheese star Mon 12/22/2008 01:44PM
Show -4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
Jambizzle Mon 12/22/2008 01:51PM
+9 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I miss the old STS9...

matthewhayden starstarstarstarstar Mon 12/22/2008 02:13PM
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Can't wait to check this out in Boulder and Denver!!!! These guys can experiment all they want here in CO--we welcome it with open ears and minds.

moemoe6434 Mon 12/22/2008 02:28PM
Show -3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
RichardHaley Mon 12/22/2008 02:33PM
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^just out of curiosity, and i don't mean this to be sarcastic or demeaning - more curious about musical tastes - but have you ever, or could you at least understand going to see a DJ?

SOAM84 star Mon 12/22/2008 02:41PM
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rulosa01 Mon 12/22/2008 02:42PM
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sts9 > eoto by a longshot.

SciDmbOar Mon 12/22/2008 03:08PM
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sts9 and eoto are not even comparable, not even on the same plane of existence...and just because theres no live instruments to look at, it doesnt mean you cant dance and enjoy yourself, or perhaps thats the problem: once people stop watching the performers, they might notice that your "dancing" is little more than that seizuresque wobbly thing that hippies like to do at jam shows, not to hate though, I know i've done my share of convulsing at umphreys that show sounds ridiculous

Lakai starstarstarstarstar Mon 12/22/2008 03:31PM
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great review, I cant wait for bowery

CCWriter starstarstarstarstar Mon 12/22/2008 03:43PM
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Great review. Really got to the core of the material played and the vibe of Club Six. All you kids need to stop hating so much and honestly, who the hell with any sort of musical knowledge compares Eoto and STS9?

NickBoeka Mon 12/22/2008 03:52PM
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good review of the S9 PA set, but no mention what-so-ever about what else was going on there for Veni Vidi Vici. Goddess Alchemy Project doing their thing upstairs in the white room, with a live fashion show. J Boogie and his Dubtronic Science were laying down the hip-hop beats with live afro-beat horn section. And to start the whole thing off downstairs is a duo picking up momentum, Rootz vs. Murhpy. They freakin' killed it to get going. After them it was Sleepyhead and the Club Six house DJ, Morale. IMHO, I though Sleepyhead was the best act of the evening....Also check out a pic of the Collaborative painting that J Garcia, Kris-D, and Mars-1 were putting together:

moemoe6434 Mon 12/22/2008 04:28PM
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@RichardHaley, That simply is not where my interests lie. Give me STS9 over that any day. I understand there is a craft to DJing. Not a knock on any of them by any means. I personally do not like DJ music nor do I find it entertaning watch, I feel it lacks the human element that traditional music allows for.

pornofunk starstarstarstarstar Mon 12/22/2008 04:29PM
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$$$sound writes some tight shit, not really my bag especially the PA - if Im feeling ecetronic ill throw them on every now & then....most of my rare eletronic attn is cured by the that eletronics (or the biscuits rothbury set from last year....

PunkJazz starstarstarstarstar Mon 12/22/2008 05:09PM
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Is that a Boognish in the background?

Deklen Mon 12/22/2008 05:50PM
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Yes I've gone to see a DJ, but that's it exactly, I was going to see a DJ, not a band with the capability of producing something amazing with real instruments on stage.

It just seems like an easy way out for those guys

acomma Mon 12/22/2008 07:15PM
Show -7 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
Ching Mon 12/22/2008 07:23PM
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rosemasw Mon 12/22/2008 10:51PM
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i dont see y there is so much hate for pa sets. its just something different the band likes to do to mix things up. they dont do them very much, so if you dont like them dont go. they clearly have been moving very much so towards electronic music, and this is part of the movement.

samtarmstrong Tue 12/23/2008 12:38AM
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I mainly go to shows to be musically impressed. These shows wont do it for me, but it could still be fun if you just want to party and have a good time

schofizzl Tue 12/23/2008 01:04AM
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yeah if i think about this as a "show" it doesn't work for me, but if i think of it as a "party" it seems a little more appealing.. i guess.. personally, i think sts9 has too much laptop action to begin with, so yeah this kind of thing sort of disappoints me, but i understand why they do it. it's fun for them, just not for me is all. ON A SIDE NOTE... wheres sndtribefuckboy? he's so quick to post hate on any article about Umph's or Moe., but here's an article about his favorite band and he's nowhere to be found. i bet sts9 thinks that kid is a little krawtchwart, or they would if he were worthy of meeting them, which he's not.

FunkLizard Tue 12/23/2008 04:43AM
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Anyone here know any bands that mix the live pa thing with live instrumentation? ie live mixing, anything like that?

Jambizzle Tue 12/23/2008 07:38AM
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duhh... e o t o

Lord-K. starstarstar Tue 12/23/2008 07:42AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Haha I thought it was Boognish in the background too! Get well Gene. Finally I miss the old tribe too. Less c-p-u more me-c-u playing instruments.

JAMBOE Tue 12/23/2008 07:53AM
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If you think Dj's lack a human element. You're going to hear the wrong dj......Who watches a dj anyhow?

Anyway, I have yet to hear a good DJ set at a jamband type show, they are always so bad. Who picks these people anyhow?

You'd think think people who enjoy Phish, Dead, TDB, Lotus etc. would really get get down to Tribal House, yet it is absent.

Dubstep? Hiphop? You're kidding right? Way to put me in a bad mood.

Note: These comments do not reflect an opinion of STS9 pa sets. I've never seen one.

jcolb16 Tue 12/23/2008 08:37AM
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jcolb16 Tue 12/23/2008 08:38AM
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does anyone know if they use ableton, serato or any other mixing program on their computers?

CoreyBauer Tue 12/23/2008 09:24AM
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Broesau Tue 12/23/2008 09:25AM
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Dude, these guys tear up the laptop like no one else. That is some sick programming and typing! STS9 is the best thing ever. Who's got my Molly?

CarterAndersonAdams starstarstarstarstar Tue 12/23/2008 09:57AM
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There is a HUGE difference between DJ'n and Controllerism. Digital or real spinning you only have two or maybe four decks .... in ableton you can have so many more things going on. Tweaking effects live ect. Plus didn't you read the article worded so well by Zack. Phipps was cranking out the synth lines live... like playing it with his hands in real time... that is performing. Not to mention Zack has a monome chilling... I never got close enough to see it in action. Murph was busting out BASS synth lines also. The whole show was so sick especially METEMEME. Anybody who was not there and says this was a good party but not a show is full of BS. Check out this link about Controllersim and LIVE PA sets:

biscok1d Tue 12/23/2008 10:35AM
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jcolb - they definitely use ableton live during their band sets, but i'm not 100% sure about the PA sets. Most likely live, too.

trizzle2682 starstarstarstarstar Tue 12/23/2008 10:51AM
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Wow, I am completely amazed at how ridiculous the comments are on this page. I would love to see all the haters start their own band. Why do you even care? I used to follow SCI and back then it was all about love, giving, and happiness. I don't really keep up with the new jamband scene, but really hope it is not filled with a bunch of ignorant self righteous people arguing about why their particular band of choice is better. By the way, before you start hating on laptops, maybe you should find how and what is actually going on because it is way more complex than just pressing a play button. It is an art form that not everyone can do, especially with ableton live. Anyways, I understand if you still prefer the live instruments, I know I do, but for real the world has enough negativity in it already, I thought this whole live music movement was supposed to be bringing people together....

cliffpaulin Tue 12/23/2008 11:07AM
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Great review from Mr. Sampsel. Let's see more wordsmithing from this fine music journalist. Send this guy out on Panic tour and see his real talent shine.

MoveMyPeeps Tue 12/23/2008 12:09PM
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atlanta in 4 days!!!!!!!

Agobi Project Tue 12/23/2008 12:40PM
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Funk Lizard, if you are looking for a true "live pa" band, i.e. one that mixes laptops with improvisational live instrumentation, you should check out Agobi Project. Our members play guitar, drums, and laptops/bass synth. . STS9 is a progressive act, taking advantage of the technology at their disposal. I'm sure people talked shit in the 1700's when the piano was invented, as they were accustomed to the harpsichord. The piano provided a wider range of dynamics and expression, but I'm sure the purists wanted nothing to do with it. This is no different. Music evolves my friends, compositionally, improvisationaly, and technologically. Simply put, you can hate, or you can grow with the music. Not all music is for everyone of course, but IMO, STS9 is definately pushing the frontier of music itself, regardless of if you dig the sound.


Stevilla starstarstarstarstar Tue 12/23/2008 01:12PM
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What a delight to have Mr. Sampsel attest to this quite unique event. Got to be one of the best people in the world. Even if you do not like STS9, u gotta love his encounter. Often times I wish seein things in his eyes for just a moment...and due to the fact that I live in the midwest... more often when it comes to STS9 and the crazy bass in SF. Gotta love this guy! Much Love Brodta!

PickinKind Tue 12/23/2008 01:37PM
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im not really typing this, my computer is doing it for me

Tranzformerz starstarstarstarstar Tue 12/23/2008 01:44PM
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To all the people that hate...get with it have to love the change in life. Things change, enhance, advance, surpass, enlighten, cooperate, build, zenith...and without these effects in life we all lose what we all want, LIFE. Who wants to be a negative stagnant in-evolving spiteful blind uneducated bump on a log that does not appreciate the moment that everyone else is living in that changes and is an all encompassing conglomeration of the old and new. Understand change people...because we all do this. Go ZACK!

CoreyBauer Tue 12/23/2008 02:07PM
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TRIZZLE!~ I WAS on cheese tour too. Almost everyone actually. And now am left without cheese, but instead with bands that seem to have lost themselves (such as.. hint hint). We are not arguing about which band is better.... but which performance by a band is better. It ain't negativitiy .. its constructive conversation ... dissent you may call it.

what america without a little dissent? oh wait .... thats what we have

biscok1d Tue 12/23/2008 02:11PM
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I certainly agree that people don't realize that using ableton live requires as much or more skill then using an instrument. this is because if used in the way sts9 uses it, you have to knowledge of your instrument on top of computer hardware and sound engineering knowledge.

that being said, ableton can also be abused and there is always a possibility that the performer is "faking it" a la justice and daft punks sets.

disclaimer: even knowing that daft punk did nothing beyond the occasional filter and beat repeat, it was the best show of my life at bang miami, followed closely by radiohead here at outsidelands.

RambleOnShelbyRose starstarstarstarstar Tue 12/23/2008 03:48PM
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do they really need all the computers? i mean other dj's do it with just a few...o well when quality doesn't work just go for quantity.

Ching Tue 12/23/2008 04:11PM
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No one is "HATING" quit w the ghetto lingo. Just cause You dont like something doesnt mean you HATIN on it lol...ive been in bands for over 15 yrs, in the music biz, and a fan of sts9 since about 98 or so...and im all for anything music. but sometimes shit is stupid...

Deadphishbiscuits Tue 12/23/2008 08:36PM
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i just recently found out what the live pa set is. with the video i have seen i would much rather watch a dj spinin the vinyl. thats my opinion. not to knock on sts9 or nothing, but give me tables over laptops

Nick1257 Wed 12/24/2008 07:26AM
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that being said, ableton can also be abused and there is always a possibility that the performer is "faking it" a la justice and daft punks sets.

Im pretty sure justice does not use ableton during their live show's... and DAFT PUNK made albums LONG before ableton was king....

As far as talent and what not.... A lot more goes in to music than just pure talent. MANY MANY MANY talent artists make music that although is incredibly complex and well written, it just doesnt move you or really do anything for me. On the other hand, some guy with a lap top and some funky basslines sometimes just feels more right then something that may have taken incredible amounts of talent.

I love music and not all good music is based in INCREDIBLE musical talent. But alas i once was a Elitist Phish head who thought he knew every band and every opinion. Keep Hating....

BooneRes Wed 12/24/2008 07:34AM
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The ignorance all you hating hippies show is embarassing. You have no clue what is going on on those computers most of which is harder to do than any of john bells bullshit progressing and strumming and the same could be said for a lot of other "musicians." Or what you dumbasses think are musicians..... so many standard jazz musicians were pissed when snyths came along, im sure they feel like dumbasses now and hopefully one your ignorant dumbasses will feel the same way. the only thing is you haters aren't even musicians, you are just ignorant wanna-b-hippies that make up what is sooo lame about our scene these days. kill yourselves please.

Ching Wed 12/24/2008 08:27AM
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awwwww sounds like you need kleenex tranceful. WAH WAH WAH. No one is "HATING" Yeah yeah why you hatin' dawg, word word. dat my kidz you hating on dawg, word yeah man wut up w dat yo....dat my krew you hatin on....yo word to the hotey and the faattty sammy brah

Lord-K. Wed 12/24/2008 08:33AM
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Tranceful, not hating just wondering your qualifications as far as playing actual instruments vs. using cpu programs to be able to make a fairly subjective statement since you seem to be some kind of musician. I highly doubt jazz musicians feel like dumbasses do to synths. I would venture to say based on knowledge that once you have a cpu program down it is much easier to sync beats with different time signatures, pre-record lots of dope beats etc. with the ability to hit a button to drop the tracks. Even if some beats are made by the musician in my opinion since majority is done not live it takes away from the creativity that has made me fall in love with live music in the first place. Not hating on electronic music and especially not hating on DJ'in (i.e. vinyl) just believe that as far as live shows go not the same atmosphere as far as creativity, spontanaety, and letting the aura of the crowd affect a particular show's style.

BooneRes Wed 12/24/2008 09:43AM
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Lord-k. you bring up some valid points for sure. Actually I play the guitar, mandolin, bass, violin and banjo(i know kinda wierd). Now I don't play the kinda music I played when I learned those instuments anymore, that was a long time ago but i still play, just more electric stuff over the last 7 years. That being said I have a lot of friends that use computers in there music and I think that computers if used the right can expand creativity in music just as much as any other insturment. a sample here, a sample there and so on and so forth. Now bassnectar for example, i don't like but i think the sky is the limit the way sts9 uses computers. In my opinions its not the computers have made their music less spotaneous over the last few years as supposed to the members getting older and wanting to switch things up. They have always used computers, its just more excepted now so yeah they might use them more but there are quite a few songs off peaceblaster that when seen live use nothing but "insturments." I feel like im rambling now but when i was talking about jazz, there were definately oldschool jazz musicians that thought synths should have no part in jazz and until the day they died refused to play them. hopefully that will clear some things up.

mojofolk Wed 12/24/2008 11:17AM
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Ableton is great... my brother and I use it in our act. I play guitar, bass, sitar, keys, synth, etc and my brother plays various world percussion instruments (mic'ed and run into the mixer), electronic hand drum and synths... we use ableton primarily as a massive loop station; creating loops on the fly. What is great about Ableton is that it then allows us to not only create these lush soundscapes, and improvise on top of our improvised structure but also we can manipulate the loops that we've just created... so nothing is stagnate; everything is constantly morphing, always moving. The only thing that is prerecorded and set to be called up are various bits of recorded conversation that my brother and I have had on topics ranging from politics to spirituality. It is a wildly frenetic experience where everything is created on the spot, and we catch bits of the musical conversation to repeat and explore while being fed by the energy of the crowd. We have tried using other looping equipment (Boss RC-50, Lexicom Jamman, etc) but we felt limited. Using the computer as a looper/effects processor allows us to set dead on rhythms and explore the depths of our creativity… simply put we get to trance out, hit that flow state, all the while making two dudes sound like a tight 20 piece band.

grasshole Wed 12/24/2008 09:10PM
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adventuresinperception starstarstarstarstar Thu 12/25/2008 08:37PM
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I prefer instruments.

schofizzl Fri 12/26/2008 01:18AM
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^^that's really all i meant to say, adventures... i didn't mean to sound like a dick in my earlier posts

climb2safety09 starstarstarstar Sat 12/27/2008 06:05AM
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YEah but everyone should admit that tribe is way way better than their live pa i wrong? p.s wook for life

zachph7 starstarstarstarstar Mon 12/29/2008 06:31PM
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Cant wait for the West Chester show!

MyFavBandIsTheBestYoursSucks Tue 12/30/2008 09:37AM
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My fav band is the best! Wanna argue about it on a message board?? Lets get it on. No hitting in the face though.

babywood Tue 12/30/2008 04:15PM
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I was there. The "shift,backspace,control,alt,delete" jam was amazing. Then for an encore they played "page up,F4,F5,Spacebar,Caps lock" jam...and closed it out with a spacebar, shift,double spacebar. EPIC!

futhepharmer Wed 12/31/2008 12:03PM
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The STS9 dude picked his own album as one of his best of 2008.

whatta douche!

yawn music

Equaleyes starstarstar Sun 1/4/2009 10:18PM
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Interesting show...very glitchy at times. Wasnt sure if they were intentional or still figuring things out. Groovy venue though. Would def. recommend the real deal over the P.A. Way to go for tryin new things though!

rainydaywomen420 star Sun 1/4/2009 11:00PM
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man i love artifact but unfortunately the first time i saw this band was rothbury and it was such a fun show but the music was nothing special, everything theyve done post peaceblaster is pretty mediocre (bring back the jazzy space funk). i drove through a crazy snow storm coming off lake erie for 5 hours on my way to see them in cleveland this november (normally a 2 1/2 hour drive from buffalo) arrived late and they didnt even play past midnite. moral of the story, over it.

Polkoka starstarstarstarstar Fri 1/9/2009 08:16AM
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eeehhh...that would be fun to see. I wouldn't pay much, but i would have fun either way.