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Sound Tribe Sector 9, The NorVa, Norfolk, VA- 10/12

STS9 began their fall tour in Norfolk, VA’s NorVa Theatre, a venue they also visited this past March both times through local promoter, QuiVa Productions. The first difference in the two visits, obvious to most, was that there weren’t any crystals lining the stage this time they travel with some pretty huge stones. The second difference, for me, is that I purposefully went into this show with a different mindset than the last time I caught STS9. Last time, I wanted to gripe about the computers on stage and things not being organic, and this and thatthis time, I went into the show with an open ear, wanting only to be wowed and not giving a damn how they got me there. I was completely wowed!

I had to take a few days, though, before starting on this review, to sift through some lingering anger. After the show I made my way over to my taping gear (mic, mic stand, mini-disc recorder and bag) and found that my decision to move a little towards the front during set two was unwise. My mini-disc recorder was unplugged and stolen! Seeing as how I was the only taper in the house and STS9’s own hard-drive recording was too flawed for release, some thief made this a show that won’t be heard twice; he/she only has the second set, as I had the first in my bag. I’m OK now, as I found a friend with an old mini-disc player in his closet, which he was willing to lose for cheap, and I’ve resumed my recordingsso, moving on

STS9 is obviously talented, but since this show their unofficial competition, Particle, has lost its guitarist (Charlie Hitchcock), meaning STS9 is now the undisputed king of the rock-trance hill a hill ready to be overrun with fans listening for something different. We all know that two party systems aren’t optimalnow we’re looking at a one party set upso here’s wishing for rising voices in the format!

Zach Velmer is master of his drums and could stick with any format you throw his way, while David Murphy’s basslines (guitar and synth bass) are perfectly complementary (grinding deep) and Jeffree Lerner’s percussion just enough to fill any spaces in between the grooves. A tight backline means everything to the producers of melody and harmony, meaning guitarist Hunter Brown and keyboardist David Phipps are truly blessed to have the team they do.

That said, STS9 is tops in their scene and their NorVa show was flawless from my perspective. “Twilight,” “Grow,” “Circus,” “Vibyl” and “Blue Mood” caught my attention most through two sets. If the meaty show wasn’t hot enough, there were two encores: “Open E” and then, after returning to the stage again, a glorious dance packed “Tokyo,” as forcefully requested by a buddy of mine in the front row! STS9 is a band of and by its fans; keep granting those requests!

More live trance bands need to step up! But, if anyone’s to monopolize the scene, I suppose it should be STS9. Competition breeds creativity and hopefully either Particle will continue in some form to provide necessary conflict or some altogether new fusion will step up with their own A game.

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