11/6/15 – House of Blues

It was an unprecedented 70 degrees in early November, and STS9 (Sound Tribe Sector 9) was about to walk on stage in a matter of minutes. A line of eager fans snaked its way along Lansdowne Street as the clock ticked closer to 9:30 PM. The air was hot and thick inside the nearly sold-out House of Blues. As I weaved my way to the front the low hum of bass began to reverberate through the floor.

The crowd rumbled in anticipation as the four members of STS9 stepped onto the stage. The group is renowned for their mix of standard rock instrumentals and electronic. Since their formation in 1998, STS9 has produced eleven studio albums over their 17 years of touring. Favoring group rhythm over individual solos, their unique style and jam band sound makes them very popular among the festival circuit. Since 2014 they have made appearances at Bonnaroo, Sonic Boom, Electric Forest, Hangout Fest, and Summer Camp, to name a few.

Beginning with a mellow number, the crowd bounced and swayed as the bright red strobes flashed across their sweating faces. Alana Rocklin boasting her masterful skills on the bass guitar, and the first of two incredible sets began. As the rhythm slowly began to intensify, the crowd responded with enthusiastic cheers. As the guitar riffs and keyboard melodies built up to a climax, the methodical beat abruptly stopped, and made way for Zach Velmer’s pulse-raising drum solo.

The crowd was a cocktail of ages with no particular trend. A young college student, sporting a baggy hoodie and backwards hat covered in concert pins stood jamming with a middle-aged man dressed for an office party. A circle formed in the center of the crowd, making way for those wishing to showboat their dance skills under the blue and yellow light bursting from the stage; the House of Blues quickly turned into a kaleidoscopic party.

The set continued to build, producing epic crescendos, and fueling the crowd’s enthusiasm. Suddenly the stage burst with an array of colors flashing a psychedelic rainbow effect across the faces of the wide-eyed fans. Cheers of approval rang out, a response STS9’s lighting choreographer Saxton Waller often receives for his unique talents. Playing on for another 30 minutes, the multicolored streams of deep reds, greens, and blues dimmed down, bringing the first set to an end.

STS9 went on to play back-to-back sets, a familiar ritual for the group. Strolling back on stage, their second performance delivered a dazzling spectacle full of color, bass, and endless guitar solos. The nearly sold-out crowd stayed until the lights came up, concluding yet another great jam session in Boston.

Psychedelic Maestros: STS9
Pros
  • A non-stop jam session full of energy for back-to-back sets
  • Devoted fans that make dancing with anyone a good time
  • Outstanding lighting
Cons
  • No crowd interaction
  • Very little movement on stage
8.5Overall Score

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