From Red Rocks to #ReGeneration: A Weekend with STS9

The ride out to Red Rocks is one of the most scenic and exciting treks a music lover can make. Everything from the beautifully colored rocks to the majestic greenery serves to ignite feelings of appreciation and positivity. It is easy to understand why this world-renowned venue is a known favorite of STS9. I was fortunate enough to catch their most recent show there this past Saturday, and the screening of their documentary “#ReGeneration” the following night.

Upon arrival we began our usual pre-show antics out in the South lot. As the anticipation grew, the vibe around the venue became electrified with excitement. Spirits were high as fans speculated about  possible songs the band would serenade us with on that picturesque night. After an hour or so of socializing with the eccentric Sound Tribe family, I began to make my way up to the amphitheater and entered the arena to a screaming crowd.

It was obvious that the band was in the mood to hit fans with some newer music, opening with a new hit, “Vapors.” This trend continued as both sets were filled with post-Artifact tunes and even a few brand new songs. The show had the feel of a P.A. set [rather than the old school, spaced-out jam they became famous for]. This disappointed older fans, and many of the seasoned vets left the show early. However, that didn’t stop scores of people from staying and raging to the band’s new tunes including “Scheme,”  “When the Dust Settles,” and “March.” Old school Tribe heads were appeased when the band dropped “T.W.E.L.V.E (Time Within Evolving Life Vehicle Earth).” Even though this song has morphed into something quite different from its original sound, I was still pleased to hear a familiar STS9 classic.

Although the set list lacked the emotional, psychedelic improvisation that originally sparked my for passion for Sector 9 years ago, the band did do some interesting segues and reworkings that resulted in a fun and positive experience for me and all those who stayed for the entire show. I was  ready for night 2—the intimate acoustic set and film screening that was sure to provide old school fans with a blast from the past.

The Colorado sun beamed down as I made my way into the Boulder Theatre. It was finally time for the “Axed the Cables” set (an acoustic set) and viewing of Engine 7 Film’s documentary #ReGeneration. As the start of the show drew closer, I could feel the excitement building in the crowd. Seasoned fans anticipated a set complete with old school Sector 9 tunes. Around 8:15 the band members took the stage, starting the show with Seasons 01 hit “Equinox.” This was certainly a fitting opener after the previous night’s set of bangers marked by the heavy use of synthesizers and laptops. The band then busted out their cover of Scottish electronic duo Boards of Canada’s, “ROYGBIV.” To the delight of the crowd, the band next transitioned straight into Dance- a late 90’s tune that once characterized the band’s sound. The emotional sounds of “From Now On" followed, making a rare appearance in a present-day set list. The beautiful guitar rifts of Hunter Brown and moving piano notes of David Phipps mesmerized the crowd. The newer but impressive "Lo Swagga" followed, storming in with a monstrous drum and bass battle led by drummer Zach Velmer. Velmer continued to show his talents in the final song, Kamuy, as he walked over to Lerner’s bongo kits to join him on a great drum dual. In contrast to the night before, when many believed he looked bored, Lerner appeared to be having a great time. The band walked off to a screaming crowd, setting the perfect stage for the viewing of the documentary #ReGeneration.

Producer Joel Goulder introduced the highly anticipated film that has been in production since 2010. The documentary is narrated by Ryan Gosling and features a wide range of well-respected artists and thinkers including Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, STS9 and Talib Kweli. It explores the apathy found in the young sector—or, as the film labels us, “The Me Generation.” Talib offers his insight into the problem, stating,

“I think that this generation wants to help out other people and wants to be involved in the world in a big way. I think you saw that with the Stop KONY thing, where people felt like they could just click a button and automatically become an activist. People want to do that. People want to help. They just don’t know how. They don’t have the tools.” (Via Huffington Post).

I found the highlight of the film to be the beautiful words of Howard Zinn, calling the people to come together and fight for what is right (watch here).

Although I agree with the film’s claim, that apathy is widespread amongst young people, I also believe that many young adults actually do care and are  trying to make our world a more fulfilling place. The words and experiences of the late, great Howard Zinn should serve as motivation for us young adults to continue on with the fight for freedom. As young leaders, we must educate our peers in hope that they will join us in this battle against injustice. Democracy is about action. Our government was created “For the People, By the People;” and without the actions of the people, we are left with nothing. We must all remember the ancient Mayan greeting “In Lak’ech” which is found throughout Sound Tribe’s work and reminds us that we are all alike and all in this life together as one unified body of love and happiness.