STS9 Lights Up Birmingham's Iron City November 19, 2015 11:35

Words and Photos by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

Five-piece, instrumental jam outfit STS9 continued their 2015 Autumn Tour last night, taking the stage at Birmingham's Iron City, one of the Southeasts premier intimate venues.  In the midst of a red hot run through the southeast, expectations were high as the hype surrounding STS9 2.0 has only built stronger throughout 2015.  The Sector 9 faithful arrived with force, creating the energy and perfect atmosphere for what was to come.

Set 1 kicked off in super funky fashion with "Call Jam > Tap In," before an explosive take on "Kabuki," an old school favorite which sent the evening into full stride. The heavier, electronic side of STS9 was showcased with "Grizzly," building an energy which would never let down.  Guitarist Hunter Brown was firing on all cylinders during "Frequencies 2 > 3" before "Totem" seemed to have the whole room marching in place. A seamless transition into "Hubble" gave Birmingham it's first taste from Interplanetary Escape Vehicle, the groups first studio release from 1998.  

Hunter Brown (guitar) of STS9

Another beautiful segue made way for "Orbital."  Alana Rocklin (bass) and Zach Velmer (drums) carried the tempo and led some lengthy jamming before a segue back into "Hubble."  The raucous Birmingham crowd was given a moment to catch their breath before the set's final jam, "Nautilus > Aimlessly."  The rejuvenated creativity that we have seen with STS9 2.0 shined during "Nautilus," and Rocklin carried the jam perfectly into "Aimlessly."  The hype surrounding this tour was validated to say the least, and you knew that the second set would be big.

After a brief intermission, the lights dimmed and STS9 was back for what quickly became the best set I have seen from this band.  I'm far from an expert, and I have not followed STS9 as closely as many others, but this one was special.  The band picked up rigth where they left off with "Really Wut?," which includes a vocal sample during the intro reminiscent of something from Queen (at least that's how it felt at the time).  Another perfect segue made way for the "Four Year Puma," another gem from Interplanetary Escape Vehicle that builds and builds until it sends the crowd into an absolute frenzy.  Puma has always been a personal favorite of mine, and they built it beautifully on this night.  

STS9 @ Iron City Bham - 11.18.15

Another famliar vocal sample opened things up for the spacey "Scheme Reprise," one of the band's more electronic tunes from the 2011 release, When The Dust Settles. The room erupted once again as the intro to "King Pharaoh's Tomb" hit; another heavy hitting old school Sector 9 jam.  "Breathe In" was next, and I could talk about this song for days.  One of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard from any band, "Breath In" is an absolute journey, giving you a taste of just about everything STS9 has to offer.  Another heavy hitter came in "When The Dust Settles," which I figured to be the set closer.  I was wrong, and the number one song I came to hear, "Ramone & Emiglio," was tacked on, just for safe measure.  Honestly, this seemed to good to be true, and I could not have drawn up a much more enticing STS9 set.  David Phipps' piano-led outro towards the end of R&E always gets me, and it was perfect on Wednesday night in Birmingham.  

It seemed as if there were only a few viable options for an encore for this show, "Baraka" being one of them.  One of the band's prettiest, most peaceful melodies was a perfect choice to wind down an absolute rager of a show.  Once again, I'm no expert, but any night with STS9 that ends with "Baraka" is a great night.  It had been over a year since seeing this band, with my last show being October 25th, 2014 in Asheville, NC.  That show was cut short due to some unfortunate circumstances in the crowd, and I was eager to shake that strange feeling that has lingered for quite some time.  This was a truly inspiring performance from a band that never ceases to blow my mind.  The chemistry that STS9 has found with Alana Rocklin is truly special.  Their creativity and attention to detail seem to be at an all time high, and it's a great feeling to see such consistent positivity surrounding this band once again.  Those headed to New Orleans, Austin, and Dallas are in for a treat, as there is no question that this tour will end in epic fashoin. 

Setlist: STS9 @ Iron City Bham - Birmingham, AL - 11.18.15

SET I:  Call Jam > Tap In, Kabuki, Grizzly, Frequencies 2 > 3, Totem > Hubble > Orbital > Hubble, Nautilus > Aimlessly

SET II:  Really Wut?* > Four Year Puma, Scheme Reprise, King Pharaoh's Tomb , Breathe In, When The Dust Settles, Ramone & Emiglio

ENCORE:  Baraka

* - Modular jam

David Phipps (piano) of STS9

STS9 @ Iron City Bham - 11.18.15

David Phipps and Hunter Brown

Alana Rocklin

 Hunter Brown

STS9 @ Iron City Bham - 11.18.15

STS9 @ Iron City Bham - 11.18.15