STS9 / Red Rocks / September 8,9,10 / Colorado / Tickets
Founded in Georgia in the late ’90s, Sound Tribe Sector 9 (later STS9) quickly refined a style of dub-influenced, breakbeat-infused psychedelic music with a heavy emphasis on group improvisation, comparable to the work of jam band peers such as the Disco Biscuits and the New Deal. The group’s debut effort, 1998’s Interplanetary Escape Vehicle, was recorded soon after the group’s formation and thus provided only scant hints of the sound the band would develop, instead focusing on instrumental funk and jazz grooves.
With the addition of percussionist Jeffree Lerner in 1999, the band’s sound solidified into a powerfully original, highly danceable tapestry. Through constant touring, the group began to work up a large following among jam band fans. Two more releases — 1999’s Live and 2000’s Offered Schematics Suggesting Peace — captured both the band’s developing sound and its increasing interest in Mayan mysticism and culture. The former accurately documented the confident tone of the band’s relentless live performances, while the latter used analog tape loops, a blend of live and studio tracks, and extensive use of guest flutist Kofi Burbridge to create a more subtle mix. With an emphasis on spirituality, equality, and the freeing of musical egos, the band eschewed solos in favor of small, repetitive parts that added together into a musical mélange at once droning and texturally deep.
STS9 relocated to Northern California in late 2000. Constantly touring, they also formed their own label, 1320 Records, releasing the albums Peaceblaster (2008), Ad Explorata (2009), and Axe the Cables (2010), along with an EP, When the Dust Settles (2011), on the imprint. The group also gained renown for its festival appearances, with shows at most of the major U.S. fests, including Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Coachella, New Orleans Jazz, and Outside Lands.