Fresh off of Mayan Holidaze, an exclusive Mexican getaway with fellow jammers Umphrey’s McGee and The Disco Biscuits, STS9 returned to Colorado on Sunday for the second of three New Year’s performances at the Fillmore Auditorium, dubbed “Time Within Evolving Living Vehicle Earth.” The spacey quintet – always one to push the balance between live improvisation and mind-bending programmed production – left a free-spirited crowd more than ready for a New Year’s Eve performance to cap off a vigorous end of 2012.
After an opening set by Chicago-based trio Future Rock, STS9 confidently took to the stage behind a flood of bass. First set highlights included an exploratory “Blue Mood” and an uplifting “Circus,” but, to the disappointment of many veteran fans, focused more on heavy-hitting newer material.
The second set opened with a driving “Metameme” and soon fell into a surprising cover of Daft Punk’s “Robot Rock.” Jeffrey Lerner’s percussion accented a tight “Inspires Strikes Back” led by guitarist Hunter Brown. An ambient intro to “Move My Peeps” then transitioned into an anticipated drum and bass breakdown. Perhaps the highlight of the night, Brown’s tasteful use of the recognizable vocal samples during a lively “Instantly,” emphatically brought the crowd to life.
Throughout, lighting director Saxton Waller dazzled the crowd with a photo-worthy experience (the band offered VIP tickets via Instragram for fans with the best shots.) Highlighted by a variation of the Mayan themed LED pyramid the band has used over the course of the year, he created a colorful atmosphere of diverse emotions.
STS9 balanced the night out with a smooth encore of “Equinox” before a climatic “Open E.” There was little doubt that many in attendance would be back for more when the ball strikes 12.
Nate Etter is a Boulder-based musician and a regular contributor to Reverb.
Vy Pham is a Denver photographer and a new contributor to Reverb.