STS9 at Tower Theater

There have been a ton of good shows rolling through the Tower Theater in Upper Darby this fall and on Saturday, October 18th, we once again trekked out to 69th Street to catch one of our favorite live acts, Sound Tribe Sector Nine (STS9).

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The show kicked off around 8pm with an opening set from ‘Beard-o-Bees’, the solo side-project of Lotus’ Jesse Miller. While the venue was mostly empty at the beginning of his set, the crowd size continued to grow as STS9’s 9pm set time drew near.

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In an era where everyone seems to be trading in their old DJ gear (turntables and mixers) for high-tech replacements, it was really interesting to see Beard-o-Bees opting to create his electronica sound with old school analog machines and synthesizers. Press play DJs take note; just because you can simplify everything, doesn’t always mean you should.

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Live Jamtronica acts like STS9 have strong cult followings and definitely attract an eclectic crowd. We saw everyone from 18 year old kandi-kids to 60-something year old hippies in the crowd as STS9 took the stage at the Tower Theater. The venue removed a large portion of the lower level seats earlier this year, making it easier for fans to dance in the general admission space on the floor.

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A lot of fans we spoke to were anxious to check out bass player Alana Rocklin for the first time. Rocklin took over for original bass player, STS9 founder, and fan favorite David ‘Murph’ Murphy at the beginning of 2014. Although we had a chance to catch Rocklin perform with STS9 at Moonrise Festival, this was the first chance to see her in person for many of the Philly faithful. One thing everyone knew to expect from the show was a jaw-dropping light show that always accompanies a STS9 performance.

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STS9 opened their first set with ‘Rent’ and ‘Crystal Instrument’. The rest of the set was as follows: ‘World Goes Round’, ‘Kaya’, ‘Monkey Music’, ‘When The Dust Settles Reprise’, ‘Simulator’, and ‘Jebez’. They wrapped the first set just after 10pm at which point it seemed like a majority of the venue emptied out into the lobby and outdoor smoking area.

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STS9 opened their second set with a cover of Phish’s ‘First Tube’ which set a shock wave of cheers through the granola-heavy crowd. This was the first time they’d ever covered ‘First Tube’ which they transitioned into ‘Moonsocket’, back into ‘First Tube’, and then back to ‘Moonsocket’ a second time. You didn’t have to be crunchy to enjoy significance of Tribe covering Phish. The rest of the second set included: ‘Click Lang Echo’, ‘Circus’, ’20-12′, ‘Dance’ into ‘ISB’, and ‘Scheme’.

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Was two full sets enough for STS9 or their fans? Of course not. The band returned for a three song encore, performing ‘Pianoir’, ‘EHM’, and ‘Breathe In’. The nice thing about a STs9 show is you never know what to expect. The band has an extensive catalog of their own music in addition to their penchant for covering songs by other artists, and there is never any way of knowing what song they’ll play next. We don’t know when and where we’ll get to see STS9 play next, but we know it will be a performance filled with sweet tunes, killer lights, and great vibes.

[Photo credit: D. Jacob Miller Photography]

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