By Benjamin Wallen //
Sound Tribe Sector 9 (STS9) returned to the Bay Area last Saturday to rock the Fox Theater Oakland with their high-energy, electronic-infused show.
To kick off the night, the Santa Cruz five-piece booked Colorado electronic producer Michal Menert, whose music pairs fairly well with STS9’s. Repping his label Super Best Records on his T-shirt and exhibiting a sound reminiscent of his childhood friend and colleague Derek Vincent Smith (aka Pretty Lights), Menert got the audience warmed up before STS9 hit the stage for three hours.
With STS9’s newest member Alana Rocklin driving home the bass, there was something about the band that felt different, yet strangely familiar. Having attended many STS9 shows before, this one felt a tad heavier on the electronic side than in previous years, but the quintet dialed it down a few times to transition into some rock jams that had me forgetting I was listening to STS9. As someone who toured with My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James during his 2013 solo tour, Rocklin’s command of her instrument, along with her stage presence, seemed to fuel the group’s path throughout the night.
The old Sound Tribe is still there, but the fresh format is sparking a creative revival — and you can hear it in the music. During STS9’s second set, drummer Zach Velmer and percussionist Jeffree Lerner broke out into a drum battle using a Cajon, a wooden percussion instrument, and a single drum. The flow and energy of the band’s rhythm section was a highlight for me, as I’ve never seen such a cool moment at a Sound Tribe show.
The crowd was friendly all around — hugs and happiness abound. With the band members smiling from ear to ear and spreading such good, happy energy throughout the venue, it reminded me of why I love seeing STS9 live. Even though we may never hear another token “What’s up, San Francisco?!?! How ya’ll feeling tonight?!?!” from former bass player David Murphy, Rocklin has far surpassed what I was hoping for in breathing a new, rich beam of light into one of my favorite bands.
Set 1: New Dawn New Day, Golden Gate, Ramone & Emiglio > Monkey Music, Poseidon, Walk to the Light, Frequencies Peace 2 > 3, World Go Round
Set 1: Dance > Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) > Dance, Vapors, Only Light Remains, Kamuy, Orbital > Hubble, Abcees > No Quarter (Led Zeppelin cover) > Abcees > No Quarter > Abcees