09 Nov 2010
- By Seth Welling
- Published on November 08, 2010
A cold front blew through Austin on Wednesday night, just in time for everyone to bust out their hoodies and head down to Stubb’s for what turned out to be another amazing run of STS9 shows in the Capital City.
Friday night was a family affair, with 1320 Records’ Up Until Now warming up the outdoor venue. This duo features Chris Byron and Jay Murphy, brother of STS9 bassist David Murphy. The crowd, while not at complete capacity on Friday night, was electric nonetheless, with many costumed and ready to party. These were the first shows since the epic Colorado run which featured an old-school fan favorite night at the Boulder Theater, followed by two sold-out nights at legendary Red Rocks Amphitheater. Needless to say, expectations were high, and old heads knew that this Friday show would feature some gems.
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Murph opened with his usual “Y’all ready to do it?” line, and then cued the band into a well-placed “One A Day” opener. This song always gets the crowd moving, and this rendition was certainly no exception. Second up was a personal favorite, “STS9”. Murph let loose a little funk on this one, and didn’t seem to let up all night. This was a relief, as the past few times I had seen them he seemed to have been holding back.
This band takes on a whole new level of amazing when they are completely dialed in, and it is this transcendent capability that keeps me coming back to see them every chance I get. Tonight would prove to be an “on” night, and the whole crowd could sense it as they flowed into a funked-out “Mobsters” > “Gobnugget” segue. The interplay between Murph and keyboardist David Phipps in this series is worth the (legal) download by itself.
After “Gobnugget”, the set flowed well with “Arigato”, “Grizzly” and a lengthy but stellar “Move My Peeps”. Guitarist Hunter Brown shined in this series after grasping the baton from Murph who dominated much of the first set with his rediscovered funk bombs.
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A spooky, synth-laden “Lion” followed, and then the crowd was treated to a throwback “Inspire Strikes Back”, played more like the STS9 of old, to close out the set.
While many at Stubb’s were veterans to the rhythm of Sector 9, I had the opportunity to meet several people who were seeing this band for the first time, and every one of them were in total awe by set break. The boys didn’t let up, and stormed the stage again with a killer take on “Rent”, which set a perfect tone for set two. “Lo Swaga” and a reworked “What Is Love?” followed, but the highlight of the night proved to be the subsequent “Kamuy” > “Monkey Music” segue. The percussion section of Zach Velmer and Jeffree Lerner held a drum battle between the two old faves.
The boys ended the set with “F. Word” and the very popular rager “EHM”, which had the crowd loud and rowdy. Due to Austin’s noise ordinance, shows at Stubb’s have a 12:00 a.m. curfew, which led to a very short, but very funky, Wika Chikana encore.
As people started to trickle in to the sold-out Saturday show, I picked up on a very festive and energetic vibe, and knew that this was going to be one night for the ages. Around 8:30 p.m., Murphy Brown took the stage (a DJ team of STS9’s string section). This provided a fun distraction until the place filled up. They played several STS9 remixes, and ended with the Halloween theme as the whole band took the stage, all of them wearing Jason (from “Friday the 13th”) masks.
The Halloween theme segued into the Pnuma Trio’s Alex B. remix of “Metameme”, and then the boys launched into a full-band version of Metameme to get us moving. This fitting Halloween theme got even better as they launched into “Shock Doctrine”, then got everyone grooving to an energetic “Crystal Instrument” and a stand-alone funked out “Vibyl”. A high octane “Hidden Hand, Hidden Fist” gave way to a melodic and blissful “Frequencies 2>3”, which was the highlight of the first set for me. They ended this set with “New New 4 U U”, which thrust everyone back into the spooky spirit, making for an interesting intermission for people watching.
“The Unquestionable Supremacy of Nature” > “Peaceblaster ‘08” segue led us in a fast-paced dive back into the music to begin set two, and Velmer’s relentless attack on the drums fueled the crowd the entire way. The boys took us on a musical journey filled with an ever-rising tension through “Evasive Maneuvers”, a funky “Be Nice” and “Tooth”. Murph got the crowd pumped with a Rick Flair-esque “wooooooooo” as they sent us into orbit with a transcendental “Moonsocket”, that had everyone in the house boogying, and several old heads hugging and relishing in the ethereal experience that Sound Tribe Sector 9 brings when they are on point.
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After this, they dropped some tracks off of their newest album “Ad Explorata”, “Atlas” and “Oil & Water” – which debuted at Red Rocks a few weeks before. The alien-sounding “Aimlessly” fittingly closed the set, but Austin needed an encore because we simply couldn’t get enough Tribe at that point. Happy to oblige, Murph came out and bantered for a minute before they started in with “Abcees”, which I thought shifted the vibe a little, but might segue nicely into the “Tokyo” and “Tokyo remix” that I saw on the setlist. Unfortunately, we caught the curse of the curfew again and the Tokyo was not to be. Instead, they went from into an “The Unquestionable Supremacy of Nature” reprise to close the weekend, which was the first STS9 reprise that I had witnessed. It was incredibly high-energy, and had the crowd going bananas.
Saxton Waller, the lighting artist for the band, was having a field day lighting this, and is owed a large debt of gratitude for contributing his element to the production, as he set a perfect backdrop for the band all weekend long. Everyone could tell that the band was reluctant to leave the stage, but the powers that be had the ball over by midnight.
[READ Headstash Magazine's interview with Saxton.]
Afterwards, there were hugs abound all around the venue as people basked in the glow of a thrilling weekend with this amazingly talent group of musicians.
10.29.2010 - Stubb's BBQ - Austin, TX
Set 1: One A Day, STS9 > Mobsters > Gobnugget, Arigato, Grizzly, Move My Peeps, Lion, Inspire Strikes Back
Set 2: Rent, Lo Swaga, What is Love? Kamuy > Monkey Music, F. Word, EHM
Encore: Wika Chikana
10.30.2010 - Stubb's BBQ - Austin, TX
Set 1: Halloween Theme > Alex B. Metameme Remix > Metameme, Shock Doctrine, Crtystal Instrument, Vibyl, Hidden Hand, Hidden Fist, Frequencies 2 > 3, New New 4 U U
Set 2: The Unquestionable Supremacy of Nature > Peaceblaster '08, Evasive Maneuvers, Be Nice, Tooth, Moonsocket (Part II), Atlas, Oil & Water, Aimlessly
Encore: Abcees, The Ultimate Supremacy of Nature (reprise)