STS9 brings sweet and heavy to Sunsation |

STS9 brings sweet and heavy to Sunsation

summit daily news
Copper Mountain, Colorado
Special to the DailySound Tribe Sector 9 is playing at Copper Sunsation at 5 p.m. in Burning Stone Plaza.

Sound Tribe Sector 9 ” known for its sweet and heavy instrumental sound ” is doing a stripped-down, live PA set for Copper Sunsation, using laptops and musical instruments. It starts at 5 p.m. in Burning Stones Plaza. Admission is free.

“We’re doing an electronic set, instead of doing a predominantly live instrument set,” said keyboardist David Phipps. “It’s a pared-down version of what you’d see at Red Rocks or a larger venue.”

With over a decade of performances under their belts, STS9 musicians are celebrated for their fluffy, ethereal melodies that suddenly snap into heavy, thumping beats. Some have compared STS9’s sound to a chorus of angels battling with the hounds of hell.

Phipps compares STS9 to a lion ” “It can be cute and cuddly or sleeping, and then it wakes up and roars, then bites your head off,” he said.

Bassist David Murphy, guitarist Hunter Brown, percussionist Jeffree Lerner, keyboardist Phipps, and Zach Velmer on drums make up STS9’s lineup.

“There’s this huge power when the five of us get together,” Phipps said. “I think that’s where the roar comes from. We found that place.”

With room to explore, an STS9 set can get lusciously light or dangerously dark, and it often depends on the crowd. After a decade of playing together, Phipps said there’s still something unknown and exciting about the work.

“(PA sets) went over really well with everyone, and it’s lots of fun,” Phipps said. “It’s a different setting and a different set of tools that we’re using. It’s more improvisational in some ways than instrumental sets. It’s very playful, hectic and exciting.”

STS9 formed in Atlanta, Ga., 11 years ago as a conglomeration of childhood friends and new musical relationships. They’re currently based out of Santa Cruz, Calif.

Over the years, they’ve played as many as a couple hundred shows yearly or as few as 80 ” band members lessen their loads as families and children spring up. But, they have no plans to stop.

“I love it, bring it on,” Phipps said. “Book more shows. It’s what we do.”

STS9 resident painters ” J Garcia and Kris D ” who create art during live performances, will not be at Sunday’s set.

Besides creating music, STS9 aims to create an environment where folks can stop and think about how all of our lives might be made better.

“Being instrumental, it’s hard to have political statements in our music,” Phipps said. “The band uses song titles to sprinkle political ideas, instead of drawing the whole picture of what we think about the world. … I like our political undertones and I like how they are understated. I don’t want to come down on anyone or be preachy.”

And STS9 wants to use its popularity to benefit others for the greater good. Through benefit concerts, per-ticket charity fees and other special events, STS9 has donated to over a dozen organizations, including Rock Against Cancer, the Yellow Ribbon Fund, Global Education Fund and the Make It Right Foundation in New Orleans. They’ve also supported such independent media sources as Democracy Now! and the Haiti Information Project.

“We take $1 a ticket from any ticket we sell, and donate it to a charity,” Phipps said. “This year we’re trying to pool all charity money to build a house in New Orleans in the 9th ward.”

The band will release a re-mix CD in the next few months, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the Making It Right Foundation.

STS9 also created ” a website with a blog format predominantly managed by Brown, the band’s guitarist ” to encourage independent thought.

STS9 will be back at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on July 25.

Caitlin Row can be reached at (970) 668-4633 or at

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