STS9 closed out their latest tour in New Orleans this past weekend with a spectacular two-night run at the Joy Theater. The first show offered bust outs of fan favorites like “Be Pulse” and “You Don’t Say” as the group dove into the fusion of improvisational rock and electronica that usually defines their sound.
The second night, however, was something different and much more memorable. Sunday’s show was billed as “Axe the Cables,” shorthand for the rare stripped-down sets the band plays once or twice a year as a treat for their devoted fans. Though it wasn’t a fully acoustic concert—guitarist Hunter Brown was plugged in, after all—the show did find bassist Alana Rocklin sporting both an acoustic and upright (occasionally bowed) bass, while keyboard/synth master David Phipps manned a baby grand piano.
Converting electronic-laden songs into mostly-acoustic pieces is a hefty task, yet STS9 pulled it off with flying colors. Each tune was reinterpreted with a unique arrangement that allowed its beauty to shine through from a different perspective, often in ways that elevated the original to high art. STS9 has a penchant for shifting between the danceable and the sublime, but every one of their Axe the Cables numbers—from rarities like “From Now On,” “Call” and a cover of Miles Davis’ “So What” to classics like “Aimlessly,” “The Rabble” and”Rent”—fell squarely in the latter category. It was truly a fantastic concert that left the same question on the tip of everyone who experienced it’s tongue: Why don’t they do this more often?
STS9: Axe the Cables at the Joy Theater (April 30, 2017)
Set One: Mobsters >>^ Surreality >> EB, Pianoir, Kamuy, 986 Foot Tall Trees, Light Years >>^, The Rabble >>^, Rent *
Set Two: Get Loud^, Aimlessly, Lo Swaga, Grow>>, Call >>, So What (Miles Davis) >> Grow, Love Don’t Terrorize, Vapors
E: From Now On
^ First time performed “Axe”
* “Moon Socket” teases
All photos by Fred Salinas.
STS9 at the Joy Theater (April 29, 2017)
Set One: You Dont Say > March, Moonsocket >> So It Goes, New Dawn, New Day, Enceladus, Hi-Key, Out Of This World >>* Scheme
Set Two: Black Satin>> Dance!, MOD**, Awesome Bloody Beetroots >> The Unquestionable Supremacy of Nature***, Rise Above, Get Loud > Wika Chikana, Instantly *%>> 4 Year Puma >> Instantly
E: Sun, Moon, & Stars…>> Be Pulse
* “Out of This World” and “Scheme” mashed up together as one
** with a Modular jam
*** Phipps teases “When The Dust Settles”
*% Phipps teases “4 Year Puma”
All photos by Marissa Altazan.