After over a year without playing a live show, STS9 returned to the stage to deliver seven spectacular sets to their fans in Colorado last weekend. As part of their annual Colorado run, the five-piece jam electronica group was finally able to blast off into space with a two-night “Sky World” run at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, and finish the weekend with a mid-day “Day Out Of Time” show featuring their special Axe The Cables and Wavespell sets at Denver’s Levitt Pavilion.
With Red Rocks now operating at full capacity, the venue was bustling hours before doors opened. Once 5PM struck, nearly all parking lots were full and 9,600 Tribe fans sparkled throughout the venue, a lot being their first shows back at the iconic venue.
Friday’s showdown began with an hourlong set from indie-electronic producer Machine Drums. A smoky sky hid away most of the setting sun as Tribe hit the stage at 7:30 to begin the first of three sets that night. An opening comprising “Sky World” and “Musical Story, Yes” from their 2005 album Artifacts gave the crowd a good hint of what was to come as the band began to paint a beautiful musical journey.
The touching lyrics of “Better Day” led the band into a drum takeoff in “Breathe In." Guitarist Hunter Brown led the group to the heavy melody in “Poseidon,” while keyboardist David Phipps took over the reins for a key breakdown in “Ramone & Emiglio.” The energy in the venue was palpable during a mashup of “When The Dust Settles” and Sly & The Family Stone's cover of “Family Affair” for a set one closer.
After the warmup, the second set proved to be the best of the night. The kickoff sample “People, are you ready?” in “Really, What?” broke down a groovy dance party on the rocks, complete with Alana Rocklin’s smooth bass melody and Brown’s punchy guitar riffs. Before we knew it, Outkast’s “ATLiens” reverberated off the venue's hulking monoliths for a funky half-time “Get Loud” remix dubbed “Strange Games,” before a blissed out “Circus” offered a peak moment of the night.
Set three was nothing short of tight jams, as the guitar melody in “Grow” blossomed into a new song debut, “Arrowhead.” A funky backbeat from Rocklin and Lerner— matched with sprinkling keys from Phipps—made this new track a surefire setlist topper for forthcoming shows.
A party scene erupted with the start of “World Go Round” before the rocks turned dark as screechy keys and deep bass grooves filled the air. Spacey vocals and menacing guitar riffs sent chills through the crowd for what became another new song debut, “Dusk.” The alien space rager “Arigato” helped close out the last set, complete with the edgy guitar melody and sonic soundscapes in “Orbital.”
A sold-out cheering crowd brought the band backstage for a sentimental encore of “We’ll Meet In Our Dreams,” decorated with shimmery synths, and a pulsing bass line to finish off the Friday celebration.
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Night two was greeted with a sparkling Saturday night scene that was running off of the momentum from the night prior. Making his first return to Red Rocks Amphitheatre since 2018, Tycho opened with a special solo DJ set. Although playing solo instead of the usual live band, staples like “Awake” lit up the rocky venue for a playful 90 minutes.
Hitting the stage 10 minutes earlier than expected, STS9 wasted no time putting the night into high gear with the melodic jam in “Baraka.” The opening guitar noodling led the group to land into “Equinox” for a sassy rhythm beat, before “Vapors” took over for an electro-rock jam led by sparkling synths. It wasn’t until “New Dawn New Day” broke loose and tied in with “Gobnugget” where we saw the band at its best of the night, breaking into varied lead melody takeovers and playing off each other for a fun collaboration. The debut bust out of “Big Bassin” saw a jazzy breakdown from the group before “Frequencies 2” and “Frequencies 3” finished off the first set.
A rising full moon brought out the punchy bass grooves in “Moonsocket” to start off set two, setting up the shimmering Saturday scene on the rocks. Renditions of “Enceladus, “By The Morning Sun,” and “Like I Do” saw their time on the setlist before the dub sequence in “ABCees” turned into a tribal rage party when Phipps took over a blazing key melody. “Scheme” had Tribe fans moving from left to right, sequencing the end of set two with a celebratory “Rent” and “Hubble.”
Wild cheers erupted from the venue, greeting STS9 back onstage to finish off the Saturday full moon party with a proper encore. The encore was indeed received, as the sassy beat in “To The World” transitioned the group to a full three-song jam encore complete with “Havona Ascent” and “Beyond Right Now."
A sunny Sunday saw a Red Rocks cool-down celebration at Denver’s Levitt Pavilion for a mid-day “Day Out Of Time” musical experience. Kicking off at 4, STS9 unplugged their electric sounds for an “Axe The Cables” set. This is where we saw the stripped down, raw talents of the band via fan-favorites “ReEmergence, “Seed,” and “Dance.”
A special comeback weekend calls for special measures, and the band's elusive “A Gift For Gaia” made its second-ever appearance since its initial play in 2001, stunning diehard fans.
The Sunday setting sun welcomed the hotly anticipated all-improvisation “Wavespell” second set, marking the band’s total seventh set of the weekend. A celebratory encore of “Surreality” and “EB” put the cherry on top of the three-day STS9 spectacular, and a group cheer of "Just Thanks" was granted to the band.
Check out a photo gallery of STS9's return to Red Rocks Amphitheatre below, courtesy of Alpine Music Photo for EDM.com.