STS9

Umphrey's McGee & STS9 On Tour This Summer

photos by Phil Emma- for the Grateful Web

Touring heavyweights STS9 (Sound Tribe Sector 9) and Umphrey's McGee team up for what promises to be one of the hardest-hitting tours of the summer. This co-bill will feature extended sets by both bands, and will stop in Midwest and east coast cities throughout the month of July.  Look, also, for very special late night sets by each band in select markets, including Philadelphia, Raleigh, Madison, Chicago, and NYC. Tickets for all shows are available now at STS9 Ticketing and UMTix and at local ticket outlets beginning April 19.   

Not-for-profit Conscious Alliance will host food drives at every stop of this summer's STS9/Umphrey's McGee tour.  All patrons donating 10 non-perishable food items or more will receive a limited edition summer tour poster. In addition to the tour poster, there will also be a special edition poster for the two-night run in Atlanta.  Visit Conscious Alliance for details.

In addition, Head Count will be at each show to help get folks registered to vote.

STS9 (Sound Tribe Sector 9) and Umphrey's McGee tour stops in the following cities:

July 10 Willow Island Centre Madison WI
July 10 Barrymore Theatre   Madison, WI (STS9 AFTER PARTY)
July 11 Live on the Levee St. Louis MO   FREE SHOW!
July 12 Westfair Amphitheater Omaha NE
July 15 Moonlite Gardens Cincinnati OH
July 16 Innsbrook Pavilion Glen Allen VA
July 17 Promowest Pavilion Cincinnati OH
July 18 White River Lawn Indianapolis IN
July 19 Charter One Pavilion Chicago IL
July 19 House of Blues Chicago IL (STS9 AFTER PARTY)
July 23 Higher Ground  Burlington VT (STS9 Only)
July 24 Roseland Ballroom New York NY
July 24 Blender at Gramercy New York NY (STS9 AFTER PARTY)
July 25 Festival Pier at Penn's Landing Philadelphia PA
July 25 Fillmore at TLA Philadelphia PA (UMPHREY'S AFTER PARTY)
July 26 Bank of America Pavilion Boston MA
July 27 Pier 6 Concert Pavilion Baltimore MD
July 30 House of Blues Myrtle Beach SC
July 31 Koka Booth Amphitheater Cary NC
July 31 Lincoln Square Theatre   Raleigh NC (UMPHREY'S AFTER PARTY)
August 01-August 02 Masquerade Music Park Atlanta GA  
August 01-August 02 Masquerade Music Park Indoors Atlanta GA  (AFTER PARTY/ARTISTS TBA)

Umphrey's McGee

The ascension continues for Chicago's Umphrey's McGee, not only in terms of their commercial success but in creative accomplishment and instrumental achievement as well.  Their performance on their most recent release,  Live at the Murat (SCI Fidelity), is as impressive as anything they've recorded to date, with the power and finesse, the yin and the yang, that have come to characterize their by-now classic material.   Live at the Murat is only the latest feather in the cap of the dazzling sextet.   They followed their highly touted spring 2006 studio release Safety In Numbers with the magical odds and sods The Bottom Half in the spring of 2007.   The album, with its outtakes, alternate versions, and other nifty bits, reached #26 on Billboard's coveted "Heatseakers" Chart and received high marks from the music press.   HARP magazine recently noted "...[The Bottom Half delivers] creamy studio work infused by diabolical skill."   Umphrey's McGee has sold out shows in theaters coast to coast, performed coveted slots at such festivals as Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo, and appeared on ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live."  Booked by the Monterey Peninsula Booking Agency, the band recently sold out three nights at Chicago 's Aragon Ballroom, two nights at the Nokia Theatre, three nights at San Francisco 's Fillmore Auditorium, and the list goes on, as does Umphrey's McGee.

STS9

Dubbed "...one of the country's most intriguing, innovative outfits around" by XLR8R Magazine, STS9 steps out this summer armed with their brand-new, highly anticipated studio album, peaceblaster. To be released in summer 2008 on their own label 1320 Records, the new album will feature never-before heard tracks that artfully mirror the intensity of STS9's live shows, while preserving the musical intricacies of past studio albums that critics and fans have touted.  peaceblaster comes nearly three years after their acclaimed 2005 releases, Artifact & Artifact: Perspectives, both of which were named in iTunes list of top albums of the year.   After a flurry of industry attention, STS9 retreated from the limelight to do what they love most:  play music. On the touring front, STS9 reached number 29 on Pollstar Magazine's "PULSE Charts" of the country's top touring artists. The band has shared the stage with a diverse range of acts including Jurassic 5, Tortoise, Digable Planets, RJD2, De La Soul, The Brazilian Girls, Prefuse 73, John Butler Trio, Blackalicious, G. Love & Special Sauce, Saul Williams, Soulive, Cut Chemist, Xavier Rudd and many others, and has played such festivals as Austin City Limits Festival, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Winter Music Conference, and Vegoose Festival.  Recently, the band sold out a 4 night headlining run at Atlanta's Tabernacle, and a 2 night run at Denver's Fillmore Auditorium.

State of the Scene: Where Have All the Good Bands Gone?

Festival season!  I love it, and it is almost upon us.  After viewing the initial lineups for some of the big music festivals I couldn't help but notice the large number of indie rock bands that are sneaking their way into what are usually very jam-heavy celebrations.

STS9 Reaches New Heights in Lawrence (9.18.07)

Photos by Barry Brecheisen- for the Grateful Web

The members of Sound Tribe Sector 9 seem to have a special affinity for the people of Lawrence, KS.

The band has made consistent stops in Lawrence since 2002, making it a stronghold of support in the Midwest long before their almost meteoric rise in popularity has had them in demand across the region over the last few years. They were part of the inaugural Wakarusa there in 2004, made a last-minute appearance in 2006 and would have played in 2005 were it not for the death of bassist David Murphy's grandmother.

But this time around marked a new achievement for STS9, as they moved up Massachusetts St. from their usual stop at the Granada Theater to the larger Liberty Hall. This move seemed inevitable given the success they have enjoyed. What came as a surprise to everyone, however, was that the Tuesday night show sold out right before show time.

The kids of Lawrence and the surrounding region had come out in droves to see the show, and the band did not disappoint, delivering a high-energy set that left the packed house little time to catch their breath.

Sector 9's sound has changed over the last couple of years, and the feel of their shows has changed along with it. The newer songs reflect a shift from a more laid-back, spacey, jazzy approach to a more in-your-face edge. STS9 is more of a rock band now than they have ever been, and their recent writing style reflects this, but they still make every effort to appease the older fans with rare bustouts and longtime favorites.

This show offered an excellent mix of these two facets of their sound, but maintained an air of the all-out funky, rocking throwdown dance party that Sector 9's shows have become.

The upbeat Tooth, a new composition, set the tone for a first set that emphasized the band's newer sound, with a heavier backbeat accompanied by keyboardist David Phipps' synth-rich melody. The old favorite, Grow, got the crowd fully into the flow of things with its slow-building, spacey jam.

The highlight of the first set, Abcees, gave the crowd a glimpse of the band's versatility and offered the best of both worlds, flowing from a funky dub sound reminiscent of the favorite King Pharaoh's Tomb, then building to a crescendo with a fast trance beat before dropping back into the funk and setting the crowd on fire.

The rest of the set went back and forth in a similar fashion. The slow, hypnotic bounce of the older Warrior was followed by the almost abrasive, slightly robotic drone of 1103. Surreality>EB showcased drummer Zak Velmer's reputation as a human metronome, his fast-paced jazz style accented by guitarist Hunter Brown's floating guitar line. The glitchy funk of One a Day sent the crowd into setbreak on a high note and set the stage for the second set.

Set two opened with a nasty double dose of the reworked Monkey Music and The Rabble, two songs which define the in-your-face funk style of the new STS9. The former showcased the band's ability to go from funk to trance and back at the drop of a hat, carried by the rhythm section of Velmer, Murphy and Lerner, who, along with a more distorted guitar part from Brown, have given the song a heavier edge in recent years, an update from the jazzier vibe of older versions. The Rabble followed that with heavy funk in the vein of the new fan-favorite, Aimlessly.

The pattern of alternating old and new continued with one of the band's workhorse songs, the danceable GLOgli, followed by the stop-start funk of Hi-Key, with Velmer relying heavily on his arsenal of cymbals and Brown using a tone reminiscent of seventies funk.

The rare Water Song was a highlight of the set, flowing from funk to hypnotic trance and back again, done only as STS9 can: heavy and thick in parts, while spacey and ethereal in others. You Don't Say followed with more slow funk, setting the stage for a wonderful change of pace to close the set.

Breathe In could be described as the quintessential Sector 9 song, and is very special for STS9 fans. Murphy gave a speech thanking Lawrence for supporting the band over the years and selling out their first show at Liberty Hall. It was only fitting that Breathe In come next, serving as the musical thank you to the crowd.

There truly is not a more uplifting song in the band's catalog. The first part provided a musical ebb and flow, the jam rising and falling as Phipps and Brown built and released tension along Velmer's backdrop. The second half began with a long slow build into a crescendo, carried by Phipps' beautiful piano melody. This piano is the essence of the song, and it remains constant as the rest of the band allows the song to build and disintegrate. Picture the tide of the ocean creating waves, which crash down on the audience only to slowly recede before building and crashing again.

Breathe In was the perfect end to a great set, and the old-school rock of 4 Year Puma gave the crowd a chance to let loose one last time before spilling back onto Mass Street, fully spent but still all smiles.

9.18.07 Liberty Hall, Lawrence

Set I: Tooth, Grow, Abcees, 1103, Warrior, Surreality>EB, One a Day

Set II: Monkey Music, The Rabble, GLOgli, Hi-Key, Water Song, You Don't Say, Breathe In
Encore: 4 Year Puma