We celebrated New Year's Eve 2006-07 by going to Atlanta to see one of our favorite bands, Sound Tribe Sector 9. STS9 plays instrumental jazz-electronica, intertwining a variety of house and breakbeats with live guitar, piano, bass and drums to form a sonic tapestry of psychedelic, highly danceable music.
Now that we live in northeastern Mississippi, it's only a 5-hour drive (mostly across Alabama) to reach the south's biggest city, "The Big Peach". Like New York, Atlanta also has a huge downtown New Years Eve celebration that draws thousands of people; unlike New York, they drop a giant peach at midnight instead of an apple. (We didn't go to the "peach-drop" since we were inside at the STS9 concert)
If you're ever in Atlanta, head over to the Little Five Points neighborhood (not to be confused with Five Points, which is downtown). Little Five Points is like a mini-Berkeley, full of young hip and hippie culture, cool clothing stores, bead shops, head shops, nicely-priced international cuisine (Thai, Indian, sushi, etc), and more. Also this is where you'll find the Variety Playhouse, one of Atlanta's more intimate live music venues.
Atlanta's Centennial-Olympic Park, right on the edge of downtown. Most of our time was spent in this area, where thousands of music fans gathered in hotels over 3 days to see not only STS9, but also big-time southern jamband Widespread Panic, who were playing a few blocks away at Philips Arena (the basketball/hockey arena). Despite the persistent rain, there was a festive vibe in the air everywhere we went.
The STS9 shows took place in the beautiful Tabernacle, a converted old church which is now one of the finest music venues east of the Mississippi River.
Inside the Tabernacle, you could easily kill time wandering around the venue, from the basement room where DJs were constantly spinning, to the various chill rooms with easy chairs and couches spread out on the 3 upper levels. Overall the venue holds about 3500 people.
Though the band played 3 nights, we only made it to the final 2, on December 30 and 31. On the 30th an opening trio (drums-bass-keys) from Ashville played a similar style of live electronica for about 45 minutes. They were pretty good, but nowhere near the level of STS9, so we've already forgotten their name.
Fortunately, the opening band for STS9 on the 31st was...STS9! Pictured above, for the opening set they performed what they call a "live PA" set, which consists entirely of them playing samples from their laptop PCs, rather than using their instruments. The Live PA set was actually quite interesting and engaging, but not nearly as powerful as their usual arrangement.
During the Live PA set, STS9 was joined for a couple songs by a local hip-hop trio, Collective Efforts.
Other highlights from the run were an all-improv first set on Saturday (very cohesive and powerful, not noodle-y and unfocused as other bands might do in an all-improv set; it was hard to believe that it was really all improvised!), and over-the-top versions of Kabuki (Saturday) and Instantly (Sunday).
Here are the setlists from the 2 nights:
Set 1 (note: all improv! with Richard Devine)
Hip Hop Improv
We'll Meet In Our Dreams
T. W. E. L. V. E.
Mischief of a Sleepwalker
You Don't Say
(countdown to 2007)*
Life's Sweet Breath*
One a Day*
Ramone & Emiglio*
Inspire Strikes Back*
* = w/Richard Devine
Some quality photos thanks to Jambase
Bassist Dave Murphy is the de facto leader of the band - definitely pay attention to him when you see them!
One of the best parts of the trip was getting to see old friends (mostly from California). Above with Carley is Kristen Godard, who made the trip from Los Angeles with her husband Ellis.
We also got to see Rachel and Jason, big fans of STS9 from the San Francisco Bay Area.
Kristen, Ellis (his "I Love Hot Moms" t-shirt was a big hit), and Matt Perryman, a friend of Carley's from Tupelo who now lives in Atlanta.
Ringing in the new year with Matt Perryman and Clay Roper, another Tupelo friend of Carley's who's now in Charleston, SC.
Happy New Year!