Sound Tribe Sector 9 at The Fillmore is becoming one of those events that a month, or season is built around. Personally I have over 20 friends coming from the North, the South and the East, all for those five young men from Georgia who seem to be redefining how many of us think about music. And the flocks of people, the union of brothers and sisters from all over, that is just as important as the show. The music is becoming the catalyst for us to all come together, see friends we rarely get to spend time with, make new ones, step outside our daily lives, and of course to get down!
Friday the 18th and Saturday the 19th will be the sixth and seventh appearances for STS9 at the legendary Fillmore. Each time they appeared, they have absolutely blown the roof off the place leaving people with new notions of the band. If you happened to catch last May's throw down with Karsh Kale, then you are well aware that each consecutive show has grown in magnitude; musically, spiritually, and emotionally. Drummer Zach Velmer perhaps put it best when, with a coy little smile he expressed, "Those shows have always just been high vibe." And if you were present at any of the five previous gigs at The Fillmore, you know that is perhaps an understatement.
After sitting down with Zach for close to two hours in his cozy, warm San Francisco bedroom while his roommate spun beats down the hall, I can barely sleep at night waiting for the festivities to begin.
In speaking of these highly anticipated shows Zach said, "It is an event, and it is an event for us too. We always love Friday and Saturday nights. And we have rehearsed, we have ideas, and it's like this is what we're going to do at The Fillmore. Two nights at The Fillmore, bling-bling, that's where we shine."
There seems to be little doubt the boys will shine this weekend, the question simply becomes, what can we expect? This tour is unprecedented for the band. They are playing to larger more attentive crowds in the some of the most pristine venues possible across the country. After The Fillmore, Sector 9 will play the Barrymore Theatre in Wisconsin, two nights at the House of Blues in Chicago, two nights at the Roxy Theatre in Atlanta, THREE nights at the Fox Theatre in Colorado, two nights at The Catalyst in their adopted home town of Santa Cruz, and then a tour blow out at the El Rey Theater, where they dropped a serious bomb some days back.
While talking about this tour, and the progression of the band in general Zach mentioned, "The reception has been overwhelming, because the shows have been off the hook." And all reports confirm, that yes, the shows have been stellar. To be honest I haven't heard a bad word, even from sources that weren't quite as sold as I obviously am, and have been for some time now.
Back to what we will find inside those historic walls that breathe music, and drip history. "The stage design this time... woo... Oh man, people have been working on it for a month and a half now. It's pretty incredible, using the old, mixing with the new; you know the whole Sector 9 light vibration thing. There's going to be a pretty extraordinary crystal display." Again, if any of you were at the previous Fillmore shows, the stage set-up has been remarkable, so for Zach to say that this event will clearly outdo the past preparations says quite a bit. And that's just one more thing to love about this band, or perhaps more accurately this family of wonderful people. The attention to detail, the immense amount of hard work and dedication, the foresight, the desire to create an entire world. This truly is not just another show; it is an event, a journey.
This notion of "a journey" seemed to permeate our conversation, and is something I have been aware of with STS9 for some time. It appears that the crowds are not the only ones going on this journey, and the band is becoming conscious of their capabilities. "We're really focusing on the music for [the journey]. And writing music that we love and that we can share for that journey. It's just getting more intentionalized. It's evolving the music and how we do our shows." Again, Zach couldn't be more correct. I've seen the 9 progress at a phenomenal rate. From a three-piece bar band, to a four-piece with potential, to a Sound Tribe that wraps around an entire crew, a slew of ideas, warm intentions, and perhaps, most importantly, each of us. This band has taken on a life of it's own. They stand outside themselves, where the sum or the parts truly outweighs the individual.
Things will be different this time around at The Fillmore, but that is what life, love, music and all things wonderful are about; change and growth. "We're evolving the music, we're playing what we want to play. We're not necessarily playing a lot of the old stuff. A lot of stuff is out of rotation for now, sure we know the fans would love to hear them because they haven't seen us in a while, but it's just a reflection of where we are at. We're playing what we want to play, and we want to play the new stuff, because that’s what's fun for us now." And if you don't want to hear new stuff, to branch out and experience all the possibilities, whether we are speaking about music, travel, reading or friends, then you're missing the point. The fruits of life are found on many trees, and the flowers will blossom wherever we dare to look.
Zach alluded to a few of these new songs he particularly enjoys playing at this time. "There's a new song called 'Once Told.' I just love the way it makes me feel when I play it. It gets me excited, just the simplicity of what I'm doing, and ya, I'm into it. And there's another song we've been working on 'Luma Daylight,' and I'm into it. I'm into what's going on, just the feeling, the push-pull effect." I suspect these new compositions will show their face this weekend, and you can rest assured that anything Zach likes playing will surely blow your mind. I mean come-on, we are talking about robo-drummer here.
While we may not see as monumental a special guest as last time, Zach said with a light laugh, "Yeah, there might be a special guest... but honestly, this time it will be more focused on what we're doing." And focusing on what they are doing is exactly what we need right now. I don't mean to get to dramatic, but music has been a source of inspiration, a means of comfort and a way to see past the fog that clouds our judgment since the beginning of time. And today, we are perhaps more clouded than ever. Outside our scope of vision a very scary and harsh world is falling apart around us, from our own coasts to distant lands. While we must always keep an eye on the big picture, and constantly strive to do whatever it is we can in this time and place...sometimes we need to pack up and follow the light. Sometimes we need to leave the sadness behind...even if it's just for a few hours and travel to that place where the world is safe, where peace and that "high vibration" reign supreme. While Sector 9 don't see themselves as saviors, they can be if WE allow it. There comes a time when we need to dance, love, let loose, and simply enjoy life. So go get your moon boots, go gather your space gear, pack a lunch and get on board, lets go take that journey.
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