STS9 returned to Morrison, CO’s Red Rocks Amphitheatre last night, kicking off their two-night Push The Sky show experience.
After playing nine sets at their second annual Wave Spell Live Festival in Belden Town, CA on August 15th – 18th and a special “Wave Spell Live” improvisation set at the Paramount Theatre on September 5th, the jamtronica five-piece soared to the Rocky Mountains for their annual two-night run at the iconic venue.
As the band explained when this Push The Sky Red Rocks run was announced, “Each night we’ll be performing 3 sets spanning STS9 music from past, present, and future. Our new ‘Push The Sky’ concept will allow us to take the open space of the amphitheater to create an immersive production around our theme of universal mythology… using our music, art and production to create transcendent moments and guide us towards the cosmos to deepen our connection with the universe.”
Kicking off the night was Burlington, VT producer Marvel Years, playing glitch-hop, dance tunes as the sun was setting behind the venue’s rocky setting.
Starting off their first of three sets for the night, STS9 jumped into their jazzy breakdown of “This, Us”, before getting the crowd dancing to their Nina Simone “Feeling Good” remix, “New Dawn, New Day”. The five-piece went into “Grizzly” next, guitarist Hunter Brown taking the lead in the punching melody and slipping into “NDND”.
The group brought back their edgy take on David McCallum’s famous “The Edge”, widely popularized as the sample used to create Dr. Dre’s “The New Episode”. This marked the song’s first appearance on an STS9 setlist since their May performance at Summer Camp Music Festival.
David Phipps started up the gentle, uplifting piano melodies of “Native End” before returning to the stage for a hard-hitting “Metameme” sequence. The fast-paced backbeat sent the crowd into an entranced dance before transitioning into the peak of “Reemergence” and returning to “Metameme” to close the first set.
After a sudden blackout on stage, the band reappeared on the stage screens surrounded by the venue’s mountainous rocks, continuing to emit soundscapes into the crowd while obscuring their true location.
What should’ve been the time for a much needed set break was replaced with a 45-minute sonic dub set by British producer Ott. Positioned in the middle of the crowd, Ott took Red Rocks on a psychedelic dub trip, projecting deep bass waves and electronic melodies throughout the venue.
Returning to the stage for their second set, STS9 played off Ott’s heavy bass and started into “Abcees”, Alana Rocklin igniting the energy with her punchy bass riffs over the remixed tribal lyrics. A sultry breakdown led into the sonic “Rise Above, Get Loud” as a gentle rain came onto the crowd. STS9 finished off their sequence of “Abcees”, and as the rain continued, went into a “Frequencies 3 Improv” jam.
The instrumental dance jam got the crowd into a continuous dance cycle, which was only broken by the start of the spooky melody in “Rent”. Rocklin formed the bass foundation of the jam as Brown led with his space guitar melody and Phipps showered synths over the rocks. Drummer Zach Velmer and Rocklin led the band into the deep jazz “Dance” and slipped into their self-titled theme, “STS9”, exiting the stage once again to their rocky annex to launch the crowd into the cosmos.
The band crashed landed their space trip in the frenzied “Inspire Strikes Back” as Phipps shot synths out from the stage before returning to “Abcees” to finish the rendition started earlier in the set. The group ended their second set with the space-themed “MOD” and “Modular” jam, keeping the performance’s cosmic vibe in orbit.
STS9 – Red Rocks Amphitheatre
The third set saw a gentle star-struck opening of “Orbital” that led into the melody of “Blu Mood” by an airtight beat by Velmer and percussionist Jeffree Lerner. A transcendental “Kamuy” sandwich was up next for the Red Rocks space riders, as the song drifted into a take on Salt-N-Pepa’s “Push It” for a quick throwback dance party before easing back into “Kamuy”.
Woodwind melodies opened up the ensuing “Vapors” sequence that moved through “Walk To The Light” for a gathering of spiritual energy before returning to the “Vapors” theme. STS9 ended the night with a newer tune, the theme-appropriate “Push The Sky”. Returning for an encore, STS9 rounded up the night with their soft lullaby “Life’s Sweet Breath”, Brown leading the triumphant re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere
STS9 finishes off their two-night Red Rocks run tonight with Eprom and Thriftworks, before kicking off their Apo11o Tour at Buffalo Riverworks on September 19th. Tickets for tonight are still on sale here.
Below, you can view a gallery of STS9 blasting off through Red Rocks Amphitheatre courtesy of Kendall McCargo.
Setlist: STS9 | Red Rocks Amphitheatre | Morrison, CO | 09/06/19
Set One: This, Us > New Dawn, New Day > Grizzly > NDND > The Edge (David McCallum), Native End > Metameme > ReEmergence > Metameme
Set Two: Abcees > Rise Above Get Loud > Abcees, Frequencies 3 Improv > Rent, Dance > STS9 > Inspire Strikes Back > STS9 Ending > Abcees Ending, MOD > Modular Jam
Set Three: Orbital > Blu Mood > Kamuy > Push It (Salt-N-Pepa) > Kamuy, Vapors > Walk To The Light > Vapors > Push The Sky
Encore: Life’s Sweet Breath