By Chris Clark
Sound Tribe Sector 9 :: 08.12.05 :: 8150 Club :: Vail, CO
With the summer coming to a close and the end of festival season in sight, August still had a slice of opportunity for musical moments. Returning to one of the places they call home (along with Santa Cruz and Atlanta), Sound Tribe Sector 9 gave a special treat to those who made the journey to the quaint Colorado mountain town of Vail - an intimate performance in one of their old stomping grounds. With the group's upcoming slot at Red Rocks (opening for one of their earliest influences in Trey Anastasio) just a day ahead, STS9 used the Friday night show at 8150 as a chance to showcase both the old and the new. The last year has seen a dramatic transformation for the California-based quintet, and this would be the perfect opportunity for them to flex their musical muscle while also giving back to those who've helped them get to where they are today.
Sound Tribe Sector 9
8150 was a perfect fit for STS9's Colorado homecoming. The intimate and cozy room with spring-loaded wooden floors and pleasant acoustics suited their style well. But the lack of ventilation and oversized crowd cramped the perspective from out in the audience. That said, it was still awfully nice to see the band walk back onto that stage again.
"Music, Us," the recently released closing track from the band's incredibly successful Artifact album, began the evening's festivities, setting the tone for what could be regarded as a peak and valley set. At times, STS9 seemed rather tentative and rusty, almost as if they were a tad nervous. At other times, they shined - most notably during an explosive "What is Love?" that had the floors bouncing right along to drummer Zach Velmer's driving beats. Percussionist Jeffree Lerner, who's asserted himself much more over the last few tours, led the band into an impressive rendition of "F Word," which segued seamlessly into the progressive-edged "Be Pulse." After a crowd pleasing "Moonsocket," it was off to fresh air before returning to a sweat-soaked capacity room for another set.
Jeffree Lerner :: STS9 by Rie Kasahara
Fittingly, STS9 arrived for Set Two with "Dance." This would be an undeniable highpoint of the night. Hunter Brown's quick guitar licks met the rock-solid rhythm section of Velmer, Lerner, and bassist David Murphy head-on to produce ten minutes of quickly accelerating, get-off-your-feet dance party funk. "Arigato," one of the more hip-hop influenced songs in STS9's new arsenal, gave way to a tightly woven and nicely jammed "Four Year Puma." From the start, the band's second set would prove more intense and consistent than the first. Most notable would be David Phipps' feel for the electronic side and deep, harmonious textures and key work on songs like "Ramone and Emiglio" and the jazzy "Grow."
To encore, STS9 offered the rare dub reggae delicacy of "King Pharaoh's Tomb." Like always, "KPT" was a definite treat, as the final thrust of band and fans eagerly anticipating the following night's performance at Red Rocks hung in the balance.
STS9 played a solid show in Vail, though perhaps not their strongest of the season. Witnessing a band finally working their way to the top in such a small and intimate venue on a beautiful summer night in Vail was clearly enough for the Tribe faithful. There were certainly many moments of complete musical bliss and some moments of rust, but that's what live music is all about. At least with live Sound Tribe Sector 9, the good far outweighs the bad.
JamBase | Vail
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