Band of the Day

2012.10.06

STS9

A five-piece collective of socially-conscious electronic innovators
Freestyle's kickin' in the house tonight, move your body from left to right.
lyrics from Scheme

Since forming in Atlanta over a decade ago, instrumental electronic rock band STS9 has experienced a meteoric rise to the forefront of the international music scene. Consistently ranked among Pollstar Magazine’s list of top-grossing touring acts, STS9 continues to average over 5,000 tickets per city, boasting a genre defying list of opening acts along the way such as Snoop Dogg, Ghostland Observatory, Bassnectar, Thievery Corporation, Pretty Lights, Big Boi of Outkast and countless others. The band’s most recent tour has seen the band sell out multiple nights at The Fillmore Auditorium in Denver, the Fox Theatre in Oakland, Chicago’s Congress Theater and a mid summer sold out performance at the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado.

STS9 truly does it all; from headlining stages at festivals such as the Ultra Music Festival, Bonnaroo, Outside Lands, Lollapalooza and Electric Daisy Carnival, to selling out shows around the country as an acoustic set-up in opera houses or as an electronic act in amphitheatres, to performing with Jay-Z in arenas, to running their own record label, 1320 Records, to using their voice as a platform for change and raising significant amounts of money towards activism efforts (including $150,000 to The Make it Right Foundation, paving the way to rebuild a house in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans). Pushing boundaries is all in a day’s work for STS9.

2012 has brought out on the road STS9's one of a kind "Great Cycle Spectacles", a series of performances celebrating the end and beginning of the Mayan calendar cycle, and a unique adventure in light & sound. The cycle will close with STS9 playing the Mayan pyramids in Tulum, Mexico on 12/21/12 at midnight.

The release of the bands latest studio EP, When the Dust Settles (the eleventh album in their full discography), keeps with XLR8R Magazine’s exclamation that STS9 is "one of the country's most intriguing, innovative outfits around.” The EP debuted at #1 on the iTunes Electronic Charts and landed in Billboard’s Top 25.

STS9’s self-owned record label, 1320 Records was founded on the principles of collaboration, cooperation, and community. The goal is clear: bring the music to the people in the most conscious, unique innovative and savvy ways possible. By doing so, the distance lessens between artists and fans, putting the power back in the hands of those that make music and those that live for it.

As rock and electronic music have continued their crash course over the last decade, one of the thorniest issues has been the difficulty of recreating electronic music live in an exciting way. While many DJs/producers struggle, substituting massive light shows for spontaneity and musical excitement, STS9 are way at the other end of the spectrum. Not only can STS9 recreate their music live, it's what they do best. Despite their thumping house beats and buzzing synths, at their core STS9 has more in common with the Grateful Dead than Daft Punk. They're an instrumental jam band that captivates huge audiences around the world with their stellar, spacy grooves that stretch to epic lengths.

Formed in 1998 in Santa Cruz, California, STS9 have since grown into a phenomenon, starting their own label 1320 Records and touring around the world including dates at many of the world's biggest festival. Live the band plays a combination of traditional rock instruments and electronic instruments: drums, bass, guitar, and a variety of synths and midi instruments. When playing live the band often zeroes on a groove and rides it for minutes at a time, on record they're spacier and more free flowing. STS9 has eleven records under their belt including their most recent release, the EP When Dust Settles.

Though largely pretty psychedelic, the EP shifts between a variety of sounds. Lead off track “Scheme” is all swirling synths. Lacking a verse or chorus, it unfolds like a kaleidoscopic club track, blasting you with wave after wave of sound. Title track “When The Dust Settles” is excellent in recorded from, but also sounds like it would be an excellent blueprint to let the band members' instrumental chops shine in a live setting. Powered by a simple, pounding house beat it's at once lazy and energetic, casually building and settling down. Two minutes in they bring in a deep, funky bass line and jazzy, shimmering keyboards, washing over the track like a psychedelic rain cloud. “Golden Gate” is a similar mix of chill yet danceable, bringing in tribal beats and sleek video game synths.

As the optimistic music flows out of the speakers you realize what's so special about this band, they're euphoric, but not gooey. They're upbeat and optimistic, but never over the top. While they may be one of the rarest things in music, an electronic group that's more surprising and dynamic on stage than in the studio, it's clear that the When The Dust Settles EP is much more than an excuse for something to tour behind.