Sound Tribe Sector 9 has sold hundreds of thousands of tickets and has played thousands of shows over their 15 year run in the music scene. They have sold out the likes of Red Rocks and the Gorge, and have performed in front of nearly 50,000 people at festivals including Bonnaroo and Wakarusa. Still, some of STS9’s best live material has come from a relatively small venue in Athens, Georgia, The Georgia Theater. Tribe’s lead man and bass player, David Murphy, describes the Theater as “the play they learned to play music.” On March 21, and 22nd, Tribe returned to the venue that raised them for another sold out, two night run.
This two-night run would be the fourth and fifth STS9 shows I have seen this month; my other three, being two nights in Lawrence, KS, and one in St. Louis, MO. I went into the theater when doors opened to make sure I had a great spot for the first night. The Georgia Theater is one of the most classically beautiful venues you will ever see. The walls are lined with tall red velvet curtains and the ceiling is covered with massive fans that keep the venue from getting too hot. As you walk up to the balcony, you pass through a hall way which featured paintings from psychedelic artists, as well as the usual Conscious Alliance table. After checking out some of the art, I got my place on the balcony and got ready for the first night.
By the time opener Minnesota left that stage, the venue was about to explode with energy. David “Murph” Murphy promised on his Facebook that he had something special planned for the opening song. As the band took the stage and their 20 foot tall pyramid illuminated, many first-time Tribe fans stood in awe of the colossal light structure. The band brought out a horn section and
opened with a Tribal version of the Outkast classic, “SpotieOtieDopalisious.” When the first horns rang out the notes of the familiar chorus, the venue erupted in screams so loud that Murph started laughing. From there, Tribe and their guest ran through “2001” and “Kind Pharaoh’s Tomb.” After that, the horns left the stage and Tribe picked it back up with “When the Dust Settles”, “Looking back on Earth”, and “Golden Gate”. Murph took a pause to let the crowd know that the next song was the first song they ever played in the GATH before playing an insanely exciting version of “Moonsocket” that had me gasping for air by the end. After “Simulator”, the band took a much needed set break. Tribe came back with one of my personal favorite rage songs, “BIGS”. Although I have never met drummer Zach Velmer , I imagine this is his favorite song to play. He absolutely crushes that song every time I have heard it played and this night was no exception. David Phipps slowed it down a little bit later in the set with a beautiful rendition of “And Some Are Angels.” Angels always feels like a sonic breath of fresh air and tonight, again, was no different. The show never slowed down after that as Tribe ripped through a fierce “Grow” as well as “Awesome”, “Unquestionable Supremacy of Nature”, and “Grizzly”. They ended their three song encore with a 10 minute “Inspire Strikes Back”.
Night two opened up with some new school Tribe flavor with “Scheme”. “Vibyl” was next before they played my favorite four song stretch EVER with “Instantly”, “Circus”, “Warrior”, and “Arigato”. “Circus” and “Warrior” were particularly magical. I counted 18 people from where I was standing who appeared to be crying. This is the power of STS9. During the set break, I actually became a little sad because I knew the upcoming set would be the last one of the weekend.
Much like the first night, set two was a non-stop rage fest. Tribe started off with “Kabuki” followed by another impressive stretch of personal favorites “March”, “F. Word”, and “One a Day”. One of my personal highlights was the band’s first encore “Wika Chikana”. Wika is one of the funkiest Tribe songs out there. Hearing it live was nothing short of incredible. They kept the funky vibes going with the final song of the weekend “Kamuy”. This was my third time hearing “Kamuy” live and without a doubt, the best version I have ever heard. Tribe certainly closed out the night with their best song of the weekend.
Rating: 5/5. These were my 8th and 9th STS9 show. It’s always hard to say, but I think this is my favorite one so far. All the stars aligned for this one. I was with old friends that I grew up with, as well as new friends I had made as recently as that night. The building was radiating with happiness and love both nights. There was an extreme lack of assholes and an excess of cool people with awesome vibes. “Spotie-Otie…”, “King Pharaohs Tomb”, and “Grow” were among my favorite songs of the first night. The second night belonged to “Circus”, “Warrior”, and “Kamuy”. Tribe controlled the crowd’s energy for nearly six hours total over two nights and still managed to leave the crowd begging for more. Overall, STS9 at the Georgia Theater was a perfect experience and one that I will be reliving in my head for the foreseeable future. Thank youSTS9.
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