STS9 | Concert Review

STS9 w/Exmag

The Lyric Theatre, Oxford, MS

November 4, 2014

2014-11-04 STS9 ~ Exmag - The Lyric Theatre (Oxford, MS) 278

By Randy Harris

On November 4, 2014, STS9 brought what has been called one of their best tours in the history of the band to The Lyric Theatre in Oxford, Mississippi. Being that it was a Tuesday night, I didn’t expect for anything special to happen, but man was I wrong! The band is absolutely on fire, consisting of Hunter Brown (guitar), Jeffree Lerner (percussion), David Phipps (keyboards), Zach Velmer (drums), and of course, the band’s newest member, Alana Rocklin (bass). Having replaced the band’s original bassist earlier this year, Rocklin has taken her position very seriously and the fans have welcomed her wholeheartedly into the STS9 family. That might have to do with the fact that she absolutely ROCKS on the bass. Before even the first song was over, I strapped in for what would become an absolutely incredible night of music.

For this leg of the tour, Exmag was tagging along to support the band, and they were a perfect opener for STS9. Their funky tunes have brought them as far as Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado in just under a year, and they brought the funk to Oxford as well. The Lyric was almost full before they finished their set, and the live electro-funk trio fit in nicely with the STS9 crowd. The dancefloor was rockin’ for their entire set, and the crowd was nice and warm for the magic that was to come.

STS9 started off slow with a tantalizing “Be Nice” into “Grow.” The slow, almost ambient start, however, did not stop the band from reaching out, most notably with Phipps’ keyboard and Brown’s guitar work in “Grow.” The band seemed tight and on-point from the get go, despite some early sound troubles for Rocklin on bass. She continued to play her part as if nothing happened, however, and once it got fixed, she kicked into high gear. “Shock Doctrine” came next, and the band really started to groove and dig deep. “Open E” followed with an explosion as the band really began settling in, and the crowd started to get riled up. From then on, it was an all-out, non-stop dance party, as Brown began to take over the lead with “Dance.” Velmer and Lerner led the massive accelerando, as the tempo kicked up quite a few notches, before laying back down to half time after a huge build-up. One more accelerando build-up in the second half of the tune faded straight into “Kabuki,” which ebbed and flowed as the band progressed through the tune. Next came one of the best sequences of the night. “Crystal Instrument” took its dark intro into the more pleasant lead lines from Brown and Phipps, before Rocklin kicked in a groovy bass line to lead into the second part of the song. After a beautiful keyboard jam, Velmer and Brown pulled out a nifty back-and-forth sequence. The band dug deep for the outro build-up, and Rocklin pulled some funky bass pops as the intro samples to “Arigato” fell over the speakers. After a trancey, hypnotic jam, the samples led out to end the set to a massive reaction from the crowd.

“Click Lang Echo” kicked off the second set in fine form, building up a euphoric intro and blasting positive energy into an ecstatic audience. The funky outro led by Velmer and Lerner transitioned smoothly into some funky pop-and-slap bass from Rocklin, which every STS9 fan knows can only mean one thing: “Moon Socket.” Velmer kicked in the beat as the entire crowd went wild. Next came the swirling keyboards and then finally Brown brought in the lead guitar, which would take over a monster jam session. Phipps took over to lead the outro into a beautiful take on “So It Goes” to end a three-song sequence. As the opening notes of “March” came in, everyone around me seemed to be realizing that this had been a special night of music so far, but we had no idea what was in store for us. The lights began to truly mesmerize me as the strong lead of “March” kept all of us groovin’. Euphoric waterfall tones exploded into my brain as Brown wailed out a guitar solo into the outro. Next, we were treated to another trancey tune, the fast-paced, heavy hitter “20-12.” The band kept the hypnotic groove going with a jazzy “Glogli” and ended the set with an awe inspiring “What Is Love?” Rocklin started off the tune with some funky bass tones, as the rest of the band came in to build up the intro. The angelic jam that followed brought the energy at The Lyric to new heights, as the band seemed to pour out every ounce of passion and emotion they could muster. The audience was left clamoring for more until the band came back out for an encore to remember. First, we saw a nice bustout in “Be Pulse,” which saw its first action since March 2010. Keeping the euphoric sensation alive in the air, the band swelled the tune up and down through crests and waves into a massive peak to end the tune. Just as I thought the song would fade out to end the night, the powerful intro to “Inspire Strikes Back” kicked new life into the encore, leading the crowd through a massive closer and giving Rocklin a chance to show everyone why they chose her to join the family.

Overall, the night was beyond my expectations. The addition of Alana Rocklin has breathed new life into an almost 20-year legacy, and the entire band seems to feel the same way. The Lyric Theatre had no idea what it was in for as this Tuesday night show blew everyone away. Drummer Zach Velmer even got up on the mic after the encore and said, “Yo Oxford, that was live as fuck! You guys win! You win! You win! Whew! Whoda thunk it? Fuck yeah!” And everyone went home happy. Here’s to many more years of STS9!

Video by brentndifer


Setlist via Church of STS9

2014.11.04 – The Lyric – Oxford, MS

Set I:
Be Nice
Shock Doctrine
Open E>>
Crystal Instrument

Set II:
Click Lang Echo>>
So It Goes
What Is Love?

Be Pulse%
Inspire Strikes Back

% – last played 2010.03.17 Pittsburgh, PA

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