Music News

STS9 Concert Moved to Paramount, Summit Reopening Delayed

Baltazar J. Dasalla
Update, September 5, 2018: Construction issues at Summit Music Hall have forced Live Nation to reschedule the September 6 Sound Tribe Sector 9 concert to the Paramount Theatre. The company put out the following statement:

Due to unforeseen construction delays at Summit, the STS9 show on Sept 6th has been moved to the Paramount Theatre (located at 1621 Glenarm Place less than a mile from Summit in downtown Denver). All tickets originally issued for Summit will be honored at the Paramount. Doors (8PM) and Showtime (9PM) will stay the same. This show will be general admission with a first come first served GA pit.
The original story is below.

On September 6, multi-national concert promoter Live Nation will reopen Summit Music Hall after major renovations with a performance by Sound Tribe Sector 9. That date will kick off three nights in Denver for the band known for its electronic and jam-heavy instrumental sets.

September 6 also corresponds to the Mayan date of creation, according to the Julian calendar — probably a fortuitous day to start something new.

Lest anyone think corporate giant Live Nation is setting its agenda based on Mayan cosmology, it’s not, says talent buyer Rikki Aston, a major force behind the future of Summit Music Hall and the Marquis — venues that Live Nation has taken over from independent promoter Soda Jerk Presents, where Aston once worked as marketing director.

So why book the band that date? “It was the night before their Red Rocks show,” Aston laughs, pointing to the September 7 and 8 concerts that have been on the schedule since spring.

But is September 6 significant to STS9, a band that openly embraces esoteria and has more than a few ties to the Mayan Calendar?

“Some things are better left a mystery,” says Hunter Brown, guitarist and MIDI keyboardist for the outfit. “Some things are better left unanswered.”

So let’s speculate: How could opening a Colorado run on the Mayan day of creation be happenstance for STS9?

In an interview in 2006 with Surrender to the Flow writer Bob Wiely, percussionist Jeffree Lerner explains the importance of “Sector 9” in Mayan culture: “During the 9th bactoon [sic] of the Mayan culture, they were flourishing and supposedly, this is when they ascended.”

Based on that alone, it’s a safe bet that STS9 values — at least in some way — the metaphysical forces surrounding the culture and calendar of the Maya; after all, the band’s name itself nods to that tradition.

Just last month, STS9 debuted its latest offering to the music world: Wave Spell, a music festival held in Belden Town, California, that offered Tribe fans an intimate look at what the band truly believes will help them “ascend,” as STS9 says.

And Wave Spell itself is not simply a creative name for a festival: A wavespell is a fractal unit of measure consisting of thirteen constant units.

Brace yourself for more esoteria: In The Call of Pacal Votan: Time Is the Fourth Dimension, author José Argüelles describes a wavespell as “the primary template for evolutionary advancement provided by the codes of the fourth-dimensional time. To understand the wavespell in its entirety is to reconstitute the epistemological basis of categorizations of human knowing.”

click to enlarge STS9 - BALTAZAR J. DASALLA
Baltazar J. Dasalla
In short: In order to fully understand the wavespell, humans must completely re-evaluate their understanding of time and knowledge.

When it came to Wave Spell, “the intention behind the concept was to kind of really communicate through the instruments and have no kind of destination in sight for the music,” says drummer Zach Velmer. “It’s all about the journey of the music.”

Velmer says that over the course of nine sets at the festival, the group recorded around twelve hours of music, but given the act’s propensity for eerie coincidences, the exact time was probably closer to thirteen hours.

For Tribe, the idea of Wave Spell — not just the name of the festival and an STS9 song, but also a way of producing music — came in the wake of its September 2017 Red Rocks run. Instead of packaging songs from the studio or live soundboard recordings from tours on a new album, STS9 started releasing music that offered a glimpse into the sonic conversations typically reserved for the intimacy of studio sessions.

In essence, the Wave Spell recordings are the kind of off-the-record, impromptu tracks created when five bandmembers free-associate in the studio.

click to enlarge STS9 - BALTAZAR J. DASALLA
Baltazar J. Dasalla
Tribe chose August 16 to 19 to hold the festival. Corresponding with the Mayan Calendar, August 16 is governed by Cuetzpalin (Lizard), and it’s a good day to work on your reputation through actions, not words. What better date to start something new?

For the festival, the group rented out the entirety of Belden Town; residents — fewer than thirty — packed up and left for the duration of the event.

For four days, Tribe was in charge. There were no noise ordinances and no rules — save for the usual laws one must abide by in modern civilization.

To get to the festival, attendees had to navigate a one-lane bridge leading up into the Sierra Nevada mountains along the Feather River. In this remote location, the band opted to create an environment similar to that of a recording studio, where performers would be laid-back enough to try new things.

“It’s hard to get in that comfort zone,” Brown says. “Going to a festival allows us to dig in and ground ourselves in that place and express ourselves in a deeper way, and take chances musically that we wouldn’t be able to take at something like Bonnaroo or a weekly show in some town.”

Tribe’s opening set was fully improvised and devoid of lyrics.

“It’s like in a great conversation you go into open-minded, and you actually listen and try to communicate with the person or the people that you’re with,” Brown says about the group’s Wave Spell style. “That is hard fought. That is hard won. That takes a long time. And I think it’s really what we’ve been working on lately: our communication and our trust. When you can do that, it opens new levels.”

STS9, which had an early influence on much of today’s live electronic music, mines musical styles from around the world to create a hyper-blend of electronic and acoustic rock and roll. Wave Spell’s lineup stands as a mini-testament to this style: Prefuse 73, Telefon Tel Aviv and Richard Devine graced the festival’s stages. With the exception of Telefon Tel Aviv, which started in New Orleans, these acts helped Tribe’s home town of Atlanta gain a foothold in the dance music scene of the late ’90s.

Brown adds, “It was a real dream come true: to play in our [current] home state in the woods in the mountains by the have something intimate and bring out people that have inspired us from the beginning.”

With the reopening of Summit Music Hall and the Red Rocks concerts on the horizon, the group expounds on the importance of bringing the energy from Belden Town to Colorado.

“Looking at Wave Spell and coming off that, we’re just feeling inspired. How do we plug that into Red Rocks in the time that we have?” Brown muses.

“It’s a continuation of what we do in the live performance, but there’s also the continuation of what we do at home in rehearsing, in writing new music,” Lerner adds. “Our motive and mission are pretty clear.”

STS9, 8 p.m. Thursday, September 6, Paramount Theatre; 6 p.m. Friday, September 7, and Saturday, September 8, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Morrison,