For over 15 years, Sound Tribe Sector 9 has made a living by captivating audiences from one coast to the other and everywhere in between.
Fusing elements of rock, hip-hop, jazz, funk and electronic together, the livetronica giant has extracted fan bases from the jam band scene and today’s booming EDM movement.
It’s a big reason why STS9 – consisting of bassist David Murphy, guitarist Hunter Brown, keyboardist David Phipps, drummer Zach Velmer and percussionist Jeffree Lerner – has become one of Colorado’s favorite bands despite its hometown roots in Atlanta and current West Coast residency in Santa Cruz, Calif.
So when the quintet made its latest stop in Los Angeles this month, it was clear just how diverse its fan base really is as hippies, ravers and even young professionals collided at the Hollywood Palladium for what would be a spellbinding performance lasting almost three hours.
Since its previous stop in L.A. more than a year ago, STS9 hasn’t released another studio effort on its very own 1320 Records after its five-track EP, When the Dust Settles, debuted at No. 1 on the iTunes Electronic charts. However, with a new album set to come out in the fall, it was ready to give fans a sneak peek of what it has cooking in the oven right now.
After kicking off the evening with fan favorite “Scheme Reprise,” it dove into some newer material like the spacey “20-12,” featuring exquisite guitar work from Brown. From there, STS9 didn’t let off the gas pedal, busting out other classics like “Hidden Hand, Hidden Fist” from 2008’s Peaceblaster and “Looking Back On Earth” from 2009’s Ad Explorata.
Yet, it wisely saved one of its biggest hits, “EHM,” right before its set break, leaving fans anxious to see what was in store for the second half of the show. Because when STS9 finally did return for Act II, it took things to a whole another level with epic tracks such as “Evasive Maneuvers,” “Aimlessly” and “Inspire Strikes Back.”
Of course, this was all coming from a band that in early 2011 didn’t know if it would ever play music again after Murphy was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in his sinus cavity. But since Murphy’s successful surgery and ensuing rehab, STS9 has come back with even more fury and fervor.
Its stage setup, for one, has been taken up a few notches as LED screens work in unison with a trippy lighting rig to hypnotize you for hours on end. To put it one way, it’s not very hard to be entertained at an STS9 concert.
Still, it was quite a performance from a band that has toured the country with Jay-Z and headlined stages at major U.S. festivals like Austin City Limits, Lollapalooza and Electric Daisy Carnival.
STS9’s two-song encore was particularly impressive as it opened with “Circus” and immediately heard loud cheers from across the room. “Moon Socket” would follow to end things with a bang even though many fans weren’t quite ready for the night to be over. But one by one, as they exited the Palladium’s doors, you could tell from looking at their faces that they knew what they had just witnessed was something truly special.