Many years ago, when Sound Tribe Sector 9 (STS9) was born, I had the pleasure of seeing them perform. Not long after that, I took a long break (longer than I would’ve liked) from attending live shows to focus on family and career. Since reentering the music scene, I’ve heard the praises of STS9 from virtually everyone I know. This past weekend, at St. Augustine Amphitheatre, I finally got to experience the magic for myself. And let me tell you – it really was an otherworldly experience!
The show started early, with Daily Bread throwing down some funky beats on the turntables. Unfortunately, I think the afternoon Florida heat kept most of the show’s attendees away. For those of us that were there, we were treated to a great mix of electronic hiphop – a great way to get the head bobbing and the blood flowing.
Much like STS9, I’ve been hearing about SunSquabi for quite some time, and was really eager to see what these guys had to offer. The three-piece band offered up the perfect blend of funky beats, jams, and bass, making it a true live electronic experience. I looked around at one point and realized that, while the amphitheatre still didn’t have a lot of people, there was definitely a dance party going on. It was about that time that one of my friends shared that they had just played one of her favorite SunSquabi songs. She had to stop and enjoy the moment, as she got all the feels. It was a wonderful reminder of how much music touches our lives. In one note, it can take us back to another time and place, much like a familiar scent.
The last opening act before STS9 took the stage was Jade Cicada. Most of the fans had filtered in by now. The dance party could be seen throughout the amphitheatre, with arms waving and heads bobbing. The beats and bass were filling the atmosphere, as was the excitement and anticipation of the crowd. His music was the perfect segue for what was coming next with STS9.
After a short break, the lights went down and the crowd went into overdrive, excited that the moment we had all been waiting for was finally here. STS9 didn’t waste any time, opening the show with the heady, bass-driven song “Vapors.” As mentioned, this was my first true STS9 experience, so I was really taking it all in. The stage was fairly simple, with three triangles changing colors throughout the night. I haven’t had an opportunity yet to inquire further with friends, but my assumption was that it goes back to the Mayan calendar sector nine reference. The time when humans have the greatest potential for creation. I learned later that, while the stage seemed simple, this was simply to leave room for all that the light designer had in store for us.
The St. Augustine show was the last night of their Enceladus Tour, and they pulled out all the stops. It was a perfect balance of their fans’ older “classics” blended with some of their newer songs. I have a history with drum & bass that dates back over twenty years, so you can imagine my surprise (and elation) to find that they have several DnB songs in their repertoire.
Throughout the evening, I spent an equal amount of time fixating on each band member as an individual. This band was like a well-oiled machine and there is no denying that STS9 would not be the beast that they are without each band member. While not a musician, light designer Saxton Waller is as much a part of the band as the players. The fog, combined with Waller’s geometric creations, patterns, and pillars of light, helped lead us to a whole new dimension.
The show was completely engaging and vibrant, with a crowd that was primed for just such a show. The smooth, often flawless, transitions between songs helped keep the energy up the entire night. The frenetic drum patterns, funky guitar riffs, and ridiculous bass frequencies showed off the band’s signature sound and chemistry. They ended with “Real & Imagined” and “World Go Round” which was perfect, in my opinion, and apparently worked for most of the rest of the crowd, judging from the crowd response. If anything, we were all looking for a little more, as the vibes were so strong and nobody really wanted to see it come to a close. Bless the nines! Let’s do that again.
Photos by Courtney Scout
You can view the full photo album HERE!