Review: STS9 at Red Rocks, 9/9/11
Since this was a sold-out show, there was really no possibility of my seeing the opening act, Up Until Now, as I was trapped on the south staircase in a sea of wookies and wookettes. Granted, there really wasn't anything I was more excited about than Snoop Dogg, who blinged a glistening "Snoop Dogg" across his microphone, ahem, pimp hand, for the entirety of his set. Sound Tribe Sector 9 did, of course, not let anyone down with the two raging sets and a crusher of a closer to end the second set that included "EHM," one of the most musically diverse tracks of the night.
A dark stage except for a spotlight on the DJs filled the amphitheater just as the instrumental to "Next Episode" came on. Before we even caught a glimpse of Snoop Dogg, the speakers screeched out "Kiss of Death," a monumental track (notable in the end of "Detroit Rock City" when they all beat each other up) that carries the energy of any number-one dance track, even though it's at about 80 bpms. The DJs' microphones were ear-piercing, but Snoop's was soundchecked perfectly, and we could clearly understand every word as he opened with "I Wanna Rock."
Donning a glistening "DOGG" across his microphone hand, Snoop wormed from side to side on the stage, flawlessly delivering tracks (see full set list) from albums as early as Doggystyle, all the way up to recent radio bangers like Akon's "I Wanna Fuck You," which features Snoop. What's there to say about Snoop that hasn't been said before? This guy has made porn, produced multi-platinum records, starred in movies and been all over mainstream media. If there's something he touches that doesn't turn to gold, I'd like to see what it is. We heard, and a majority of us rapped, all the lyrics to "Nuthin But a G Thang," "P.I.M.P.," and "What's My Name?" It's not typical that a show like this will see such a musically contrasting opener like Snoop Dogg, but it was welcomed with cheers and open arms by the loyal Tribe fans.
On it's second night of a three-night run here, starting with last night at the Ogden Theatre, Sound Tribe Sector 9 sold out Red Rocks in the moments leading up to the show. Credit is probably due to the fact that some people, regardless of skin color, style, musical taste or what have you, simply wanted to catch a glimpse of the Don himself, although most were present to see Tribe.
Review continues and set list is on next page. The stage dynamic of the STS9 guys is amazing. After witnessing their Ogden show in part on Thursday night by catching the end of the first set and the opening of the second, the sold-out Red Rocks crowd didn't wait a moment before letting the dancing commence. Opening with "Artifact," and delving straight into "Arigato," was uplifting, but the energy really picked up with the progressive style of "Hidden Hand, Hidden Fist," which showcased the work of David Murph, aka Murph, whose fretwork on the bass and grace on the keys gave the song a youthful tone, much more lively than the studio cut.
The first set closed with "Oil & Water," a song that one fan mentioned hadn't closed a set in some time. When fans can make claims like that, or any relating to a certain song closing a set, there is a deep respect for the artist/fan relationship.
What may, or does, separate this band from others that fit into the blanketed jam category, is the implementation of their synth heavy bass lines, which they've been doing and have probably paved the way for. On tracks like "EHM," the electronic sound comes out so strong that it literally gets you looking around wondering where the DJ is, but then there is the subtle percussion from Jeffree Lerner that reminds you that this band is actually just utilizing their skills, and the technology at hand, to create an experience that is unmatched.
The encore saw a wild "Monkey Music," appropriate with everyone's jumping. To say that Tribe didn't play an amazing show last night would be wrong, they did. They came. They saw. They conquered. The final night of mayhem starts at 7:30pm with openers LTJ Bukem and boulder-based electro rockers Savoy.
Critic's Notebook Personal Bias: Hidden Hand Hidden Fist is my favorite STS9 song, so that was pleasant to hear for sure.
Random Detail: Murph's cancer diagnosis over the past few years has only solidified this band as that much more dedicated to making great music. Cheers to his current state and I wish him well.
By The Way:Red Rocks releases tickets after they say a show is sold out. Stay on that diehards.
Set List Set 1: Artifact Arigato HHHF Metameme Be Nice Empires Breathe In Instantly Oil & Water
Set 2: Drums Scheme Rent Evasive Eb Beyond Right Now Aimlessly EHM Circus
Encore: This Us Monkey Music