Having experienced the magical musical masterpiece that was Sound Tribe Sector 9’s Re:Generation Festival at Horning’s Hideout in the Pacific Northwest earlier this summer, I knew that Sound Tribe was back on track and about to impress crowds throughout the summer and into their massive fall tour. Earlier in the summer, when I saw that they were going to be playing three nights in Colorado, the weekend after Labor Day and thus the Colorado Phish run, I knew that Colorado had to be a 2-3 week stop on my cross-country journey to California.
After The Big Up, I set out in my ’98 Audi with all my prized terrestrial possessions and a select couple passengers. I’ve been going to Phish shows since mid-high school, and that band was honestly and truly my first love when it comes to live shows. But this Labor Day weekend, I only attended the Saturday night Phish show, as I was semi-subconsciously saving my energy for three nights of Tribe.
Come Thursday, I woke up feeling refreshed and ready to be present for what I knew would be a weekend of stellar musical entertainment by Sound Tribe Sector 9. Going into the Thursday night show at the Ogden Theater in Denver, I had a feeling that they were going to throw it down primarily old school with some well-done new and newish tunes mixed in. Sure enough, that is pretty much how it went down.
They opened the first set with a solid “Re:Emergence” that transitioned seamlessly into one of my all-time favorites, “Tap-In.” They next broke into a dope “Kamuy” with a sick drum/percussion jam from Zack Velmer and Jeffree Lerner. After a resilient rendition of “F. Word,” the music segued into a sound that I could only describe as high-energy alien space funk, until I realized that it was in fact “We’ll Meet In Our Dreams.” The Tribe then weaved into “Somesing” with yet another impressive percussion-oriented section. They eventually fell into a “Hubble”>”Frequencies 2 & 3” to end the first set.
I used the set break to find my friends and catch up with some old friends I hadn’t seen in a minute. When the lights went down and I heard the opening measures of “Really What?,” I found myself eager and excited. Tribe moved on into older songs, “Grow” and “Luma Daylight,” both of which were as amazing and welcome as ever. They then busted into a crazy version of “Tokyo.” After “Lo Swaga,” they played a lively version of “Lion” and a super-hyphy and often-present “One a Day.” After Murph proudly exclaimed that “we fucking’ love ya’ll,” the band ended the set with a highly-instrumental and electro-minimal version of “Four Year Puma.”
Coming out some minutes later for an encore, Murph once again used the F. Word and emotionally bid us goodnight: “We’ll see all you fucking beautiful people tomorrow.” He then queued the band into a beautiful version of “Equinox” to end the night softly, naturally reminding myself and everyone else in attendance that this was just the beginning and that the next two nights were going to be off the chain. Clearly the band was excited, and with Sound Tribe, that is absolutely a precursor of good things to come.
SET I: Re:Emergence, Tap-In, Kamuy, F. Word, We’ll Meet In Our Dreams, Somesing, Frequencies 2 > 3, Hubble
SET II: Really What?, Grow, Luma Daylight,Tokyo, Lo Swaga, Lion, One A Day, Four Year Puma
Although I was planning on getting to the Red Rocks lot early on Friday, for some reason, my homies and I didn’t get down there until relatively late, and unfortunately, we just had a chance to kick it in the lot for a short while.
It’s not that often that one can experience a legendary rapper off Death Row Records alongside their favorite jamtronic band, but this opportunity gratefully presented itself, as The D. O. double G. popped it the fuck off on Friday night as the opener. Shit got real rowdy from the beginning with the classic, “Still Dre.” The crowd got totally swagger with Snoop as familiar beats blared behind “Jump Around,” “Gin and Juice,” “Fuck You,” and “Who Am I.” Dogg was on point and had the entire audience swaying their hands thuggishly singing “bow wow wow yippy yo yippy yay bow wow yippy yo yippy yay.” Ballin’, I thought to myself, as I watched the ladies on the stage grind only like Snoop Dogg’s girls would. The final chant for the night, signaling Tribe time, went a little something like this…“ Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, Snoop Dogg.”
After a walk up top, complete with a pleasant left-shin-bash onto one of the stairs, and a subsequent slice of pizza, Sound Tribe took the stage. While not overly impressive, the show was generally solid. The sky was completely clouded in the beginning of the first set but slowly and absolutely cleared over the course of the show, as anyone who was observing the rock walls and the moon beyond could discern.
Gems of the show included “Metameme,” a galactic command march-esque “Empires,” and hypnotizing red and white lights during “Breathe In.” I would describe “Oil & Water” as a new school vocal-less rock anthem, which eventually and leisurely dribbled to a close to end the set.
The second set started with a short intro, which I later discovered was called “973 Intro,” followed by “Scheme,” complete with a tight drum jam, and then “Rent.” I couldn’t tell what the next song was for a little bit, but soon realized that it was a strange stalled introduction to the old energetic jam, “Evasive Maneuvers.” The next few songs were full of life, but not highly technical, and consisted of “EB,” “Beyond Right Now,” and “Aimlessly.”
After a short pause during which Murph asked us, “Should we pick it up a little bit?,” the band busted into probably the best version of the dark gem, “EHM,” that I’ve ever witnessed, complete with an epic light show and LCD screen effects that I can only describe as Dark Side of the Moon meets DMT. In sharp departure from this black magic, the Tribe then swung into the light-hearted “Circus.”
Having ended the set on a super high note, the band then came back out to encore with “This, Us”>”Monkey Music,” the latter an old-school favorite of many, if not most, Tribe fans. This left everyone feeling great and looking forward to the rest of the night and, more importantly, the next day, for Red Rocks’ last show of the summer season.
Video courtesy of iClips. Go to iClips to see more & purchase the entire video.
SET I: Artifact, Arigato, Hidden Hand Hidden Fist, Metameme, Be Nice, Empires, Breathe In, Instantly, Oil & Water
SET II: 373 Interlude, Scheme, Rent, Evasive Maneuvers, EB, Beyond Right Now, Aimlessly, EHM, Circus
E: This Us, Monkey Music
Having successfully arrived at Red Rocks early enough on Saturday to get a prime spot in the first few rows of the Lower South Lot, I raged it real proper for several hours before meandering over to the venue for the enchantment that I knew was about to ensue. Unfortunately, I did not get in early enough to catch LTJ Bukem, so I can’t really comment on his set… Oops.
What I did arrive in time for was quite honestly very disappointing. Savoy had a super untzy sound without any real complex musical undercurrents, and the lasers that were beaming in every which way were not enough of a distraction for me to forget that the sound was not very impressive. Maybe they were going for a sound that they thought would impress the generally young crowd, but neither I nor any of my friends had much good to think or say when it was over. By that time, everyone was more than ready to see what Sound Tribe had to offer for the evening.
The Tribe opened their show with a quick “Nine Inch Nails Intro” teaser, which they also busted out at Re:Gen to get the mood lifted. They then erupted into “Tooth.” Although the song isn’t my favorite, it was a welcome contrast to the noise that was Savoy. After throwing down an almost nine-minute version of old favorite, “Moon Socket,” Murph exclaimed that they were going to play a “new song just for tonight,” which I later found out was called “Simulator.” They followed that up with a “Golden Gate,” which reminded me of my impending journey through the canyon lands of southern Utah and on to the San Francisco Bay area.
When I heard the opening notes of “Abcees,” I was thrilled to take in the intense energy that was being morphed and twisted beautifully before my eyes, an energy which led my Disco Biscuits–oriented friend to exclaim that “Sound Tribe would make murder look sexy.” They next threw down solid versions of “Move My Peeps,” “The Rabble,” and “When the Dust Settles.”
After I used the much needed set break to find some air, refill my water bottle, and get up with friends that were not in the center of Row 22, the band opened with an awesome version of “What is Love?,” as a dirty female vocal sample section accompanied a yellow kaleidoscope sifting through red and blue search lights. “New New 4 U U” is one of those songs conceived within the past few years, and although I’m not the biggest fans of many songs created during that time, it’s definitely one of the good ones.
After a new song called “Boards Interlude,” the band finished the second set strongly, with equally epic versions of “Wika Chikana,” “20-12,” “Inspire Strikes Back,” and “The Unquestionable Supremacy of Nature.” I first heard the indescribably powerful “20-12” at Re:Generation, so I was extremely pleased when I realized that I was hearing it, yet again, at another naturally beautiful venue.
After a quick encore break, the band broke into “Grizzly” and then “Baraka.” As always, “Baraka” was beautiful… but this time I felt that something was amiss. I wasn’t sure exactly what that something was until the song ended and my friend Adam hobbled over and told me, with a look of disbelief on his face, that he had just gotten nailed in the right calf with a boulder the size of a cinder block. Literally, chunks of rock were falling into the crowd from the rock wall to the left of the stage, sending seven people to the hospital, including one person with an open head wound and one with a broken wrist. Check out my buddy Adam’s airport interview with a local news station the next morning: http://www.9news.com/rss/story.aspx?storyid=218608.
Even Red Rocks is still not sure what exactly happened there that night, but I’d say it was either one of two things: people were climbing up on top of the rocks when it is clearly not safe for anyone to be doing so, or Sound Tribe Sector 9 literally was playing with such a high vibrational intensity and frequency that they caused outlying rocks to break free from the walls and have no other option but to obey the laws of gravity and fall onto a vulnerable crowd of Tribeheads.
Perhaps we’ll never know.
The fall tour commenced this past Friday in Milwaukee and continued over the weekend to Lawrence, KS and Urbana, IL (the site of the band’s legendary jazzy throwdown on April 21, 2002.) For full tour info, check out STS9.com.
SET I: NIN Intro, Tooth, Moon Socket, Simulator,Golden Gate, Abcees, Move My Peeps, The Rabble, When The Dust Settles
SET II: What Is Love?, Shock Doctrine, New New 4 U U, Boards Interlude, Wika Chikana, 20-12, Inspire Strikes Back, The Unquestionable Supremacy of Nature
E: Grizzly, Baraka
Writing contributions by Miss Jessica Dugan of SparkleberryLane.com
Photo Credits: E. Rock Jamwok, Patrick McGettigan, Matthew Cremer