STS9’s Wave Spell Live Music Festival Recap and Review
PHOTOS CONTRIBUTED BY ALIVE COVERAGE
STS9’s Wave Spell Festival consisted of 9 glorious, established, and iconic STS9 sets, hinted with the overall cast of California’s perfected rays of sunshine. Every day featured DJ-eccentric beach parties, hammock relaxation, and of course, STS9. The programming and overall vibe of the crowd at Wave Spell allowed the supporting musical acts to be at their most expressive, embodying the spirit that makes up Wave Spell Live.
Attendees made their way from all over the country to arrive at Belden Town, California on Thursday. The ride into the small and nestled Belden Town provided stunning views full of winding canyon sides weaving throughout the Feather River. When Wave Spell attendees settled into their riverside camps, most filled up their rafts and made their way through downtown Belden to the DayBreak Stage on the water. Taking in the view for the first time, attendees settled into their home for the weekend, excited for all that was to come.
Moon Juice, Zephyr, G.A.M.M.A., Old Griff, and Scotty (Trees) led attendees through the day at the DayBreak Beach Stage. As the sun set for the first official night of Wave Spell Live to begin, the word and excitement began to increase as the time narrowed for STS9’s first set to roll around.
STS9 began their first set of the weekend as a fully improvisational “Wave Spell Live” set. This set was one of the most eclectic, synchronized, and potent STS9 sets of the weekend, truly showing how far they have come from the previous year, as well as astonishing fans with their immense and conjunct skill levels.
The set began with a slow buildup that quickly gained power as the collective tuned into each other by setting their overall pace for the set. As they continued, they featured many different instrumental and space sounds that would elevate to an intense buildup and overall peak of sound, leaving the crowd quite speechless. The unity and passion that was being musically expressed throughout this first set created an overall feeling of awe, love, and ecstasy leading into the weekend. Many familiar guitar riffs were teased throughout this first Wave Spell Live set, leaving the crowd excited for what was to come.
Having to only walk a short distance from the main stage to the late night Voyager Stage, the night continued with Thriftworks throwing down heavy bass music followingSTS9. Attendees were in awe for awhile followingSTS9’s first set, but Thriftworks got people re-energized and re-focused for the night to come. Saqi followed, which led into a powerful and skillful Eminence Ensemble set.
Bluetech stole attendees’ hearts for the night as he delivered his bass-heavy, – yet expressive and light – tunes to a late-night crowd. Bluetech’s songs carried down the river as some attendees drifted to sleep preparing for the three STS9 sets the next day.
It stayed cold in the canyon throughout the late night into the next morning, allowing for attendees to get the extra sleep they needed to properly rage. When the sun began to hit its peak Friday afternoon, attendees began to make their way to the water to refresh and begin their daily dance party. Over 40 rafts were scattered throughout the DayBreak Stage as Gonzofuze, Shadow Spirit, and Schwung led us through an epic river party. As the sun began to lower, attendees made their way to one of the many, upgraded food vendors present, or stayed to rage the Secret Recipe set on the beach.
As the Dragon City Stage opened for the night, Richard Devine graced us with his presence and digital analog skills. His raw and textured experimental sound design ricocheted throughout the Belden Town grounds as fest-goers prepared for three sets of STS9.
STS9 opened up their first all-original set with “Music, Us,” a song that is normally played as an encore. Attendees came together at that moment and sang the powerful lyrics, “Remedy your melody, sharing space with harmony, rhythm and eternity, love is all we’ll ever need.” Tribe then slowly transitioned into “Gobnugget,” performing short and staccato notes to get the crowd moving in unison with the sound. As one of the fan-favorite sandwiches of the weekend, STS9 transitioned into a long and heavy “118” > “Seed” > “Peaceblaster,” and finally ending with a remixed “Awesome feat. Cool Kids.”
To heighten the energy even more, next came “Biggs” into a lengthy and strong “The Unquestionable Supremacy of Nature.” Hunter Brown’s unbelievable guitar shreds left the crowd completely wound up and ready for two more following sets.
After a timely intermission, STS9 came back on the vocals of “Really What?” setting a solid beat for the crowd in which to refocus their energy into this second all-original STS9 set. Tribe really began to set their groove for the rest of the night as they played a ten minute “Four Year Puma,” followed by an even longer “Moon Socket.” At this point, the whole crowd was light on their feet and completely vibing off each other, and off their favorite band slaying it before them. The synchronized energy could not have been more intact as they played an appropriate “Wave Spell,” letting the crowd feel the gratitude from all that has come from that song.
Hints of “Circus” began to be heard at the end of “Wave Spell,” and the crowd all embraced their closest companions as one of the “happiest” and loved STS9 songs began. It seemed as though this song was perfectly placed for attendees to practice gratitude and truly become thankful for their current situation in Belden Town. A twelve minute graceful “Circus” led into “Be Nice,” and ended with a hard and heavy “EHM.”
Promptly after, STS9 began their second Wave Spell Live set of the weekend. Tribe initiated this set with light acoustics from Jeffree Lerner in the back, as Alana Rocklin brought the light bass tones to the forefront, and each member slowly joined into a jazzy and funky unison. The crowd swayed along and happily waited for the buildup to accelerate.
For the second improvisational section of the Wave Spell set, Richard Devine sat in to accompany STS9 with some background analog. The set turned to become more noise and was more sound-based, with layers and samples uniting to create what seemed to be waves of consciousness and purity passing through the stratified air waves.
The New Deal came on the late-night stage following STS9, bringing their live, instrumental and experimental trio to full force for fans. Shortly after, The M3GA-SCOPES highly anticipated performance came on stage with their extravagant masks to completely awe the crowd. This high-energy collective featured powerful improvisational and instrumental skills, as they knew exactly how to accelerate a crowd to its peak, especially in the late-night hours. .
Saturday morning rolled around and the Desert Hearts Takeover began on the DayBreak Stage. The weather was phenomenal and attendees basked in the sun to a day full of impeccable house music. Desert Hearts set the vibe for a monumental beach party.
SUB-ID initiated the night on the main stage starring Alana Rocklin and her husband Rad Rowden. This power couple performed powerful and technical live mixing, alongside Rocklin’s intensified and exceptional bass lines. Their set was a polished milestone leading into STS9’s third night of performance.
Rad Rowden stayed on stage for a dance-filled opening “Scheme,” completely igniting the dance floor. Next they transitioned into one of the most prominent “old-school” STS9 songs, “Somesing,” performing one of the longest versions of the song ever played. The set began to get crunchy and historic as “Warrior” played next.
Hunter Brown led the energy into two, squalling, 10+ minute performances of “The Spectacle,” followed by a lovely “Warrior.” STS9 quickly heated things up with a disco, “World Go Round,” supported by a phenomenal lighting performance by Tiberus. Just as the crowd thought they couldn’t heat up anymore, STS9 threw down “Totem,” followed by a thirteen minute, monumental “Kaya” to end the set.
Wave Spell Live Set 4 in Belden Town began with the infamous “GoldenGato,” a stellar and spacey blend of “Golden Gate” and “Arigato,” to initiate the set. Tribe continued to bring the heat with “When The Dust Settles,” [into not just some of the time], but “Instantly,” circled all the way back to “Arigato,” leaving attendees pronouncing, “First, I Would Go To The Moon.”
As one of the most pronounced setlists of the weekend, STS9 continued with “T.W.E.L.V.E” > “March,” excelling the energy to one of the highest levels of the night. “Open E” was next, which was one continuous buildup that brought the band to central unity and full aptitude. Each band member was appreciated in that moment by the crowd for their immense instrumental playing compacities.
Sub ID came on stage from the back left for the blossoming end of “Open E,” into “Better Day Spell,” which was then followed by a funky and bass-filled “Crystal Instrument” to end the set.
As Saturday late-night music rolled around, Russ Liquid ignited the night on the Voyager Stage. He performed an ecstatic set, completely capitalizing on his immense instrumental skills, as well as completely throwing down on the electronic side of things. His balance between live instrumentation and heavy electronic music allows for him to receive respect from attendees for his live performance, as well as give attendees complete joy from this curated “all-out” dance party. Russ Liquid was just as intensified (LIT) as the crowd was, balancing out and excelling that energy into the night.
Christian Martin followed Russ Liquid, keeping the party alive and well with his profound and experienced house music vibes. HIs music took twists and turns through funky, hip, and heavy vibes, but kept a consistent beat to lead attendees through a Saturday night dance party. Christian Martin’s music showed attendees what a good “house music” set features.
A much anticipated Mark Farina “Mushroom Jazz” set came on next to swoon the crowd through pushing music boundaries and blending genres to a rich complexion. Mark Farina’s rendition of The Grateful Dead’s “Franklin Tower” left the crowd feeling groovy preceding Random Rab’s sunrise set.
Random Rab’s sunrise set’s are considered sacred, momentous, and even somewhat divine, to our beloved music community. This Wave Spell Live set symbolized the unique experiences and intertwined intentions of one solid collective that transcended throughout the weekend in Belden Town. As friends rejoiced and practiced gratitude together, watching yet another purple and pink sunrise ascend from the bridge surpassing Belden Town, a wave of unity washed over all attendees present. Random Rab’s set was yet another musical journey and showcase of raw talent that was the perfect conclusion to a proper Saturday night.
After attendees rested throughout the morning and took their last trip to the beach stage, all were preparing for the STS9 solo sets to come, as well as STS9’s final night of music in Belden.
Zach Velmer of STS9 was the final set of the DayBreak Stage. His set featured his daughter, ISIS as lead dancer and on vocals. The set was a great conclusion of the eclectic electronic music that was featured throughout the DayBreak Stage over the weekend.
As the Dragon City Stage gates opened for the last time, attendees began to realize this was their last night in Belden Town. Simultaneously, David Phipps of STS9 began to play his solo set to correlate with attendee’s overall gratitude. Phipps’ wistful and admirable piano playing accompanied by a peaceful digital realm of music was just what attendees needed to begin the proper and meaningful send-off of the night.
Next Chris Karns came on stage to grace the crowd with his live scratching skills. His set called for an epic throwdown of old-school beats with a modern taste. HIs various covers and remixes led attendees on a wild exploration through sound and style.
STS9 came on for their final three sets which was led by a huge round of applause. Chris Karns accompanied them on stage for the first 30 minutes of their last improvisational Wave Spell Live set. The set began with heavy chimes and a steady beat led by Rocklin’s bass. The band dug deeper into sound as time went on, with Chris Karns simultaneously leading melodic live scratching. Karn’s backlayer of sound led to the perfect ecstasy of tone and rhythm to move them throughout the set.
STS9 would section the improvisational sets into three to five different parts. Each one would begin with light sound exploration until they all caught up to their energy, building up to a big finale sound. The journey of these Wave Spell Live sets was being with the band as they found their groove balancing out each others’ sounds and instrumental talents. Through different drum and bass journeys, familiar guitar and synth riffs, trance space sounds, and eclectic jams, the crowd was with Tribe the whole way to the finale buildup and crescendo back down.
As the last Wave Spell Live set exploded with energy and came to an end, the crowd was all guessing what they would bust out for their last two original Sunday night sets. Most of the crowd was guessing that they would “take it easy” and play some of their more heartfelt and slower songs, but it didn’t turn out that way at all.
STS9 came out steady and one hundred percent in-tune to deliver the best performance yet, with “Out Of This World,” one of the first songs played over the weekend from their newest album. They next transitioned into a sizzling “Evasive Maneuvers,” and back into a newer song, “Give and Take,” which pleased the crowd with a massive and surprising jam to accompany it.
Their power throughout the next series of songs was awe-inspiring and consistent. STS9 worked their way through “Native End” > “ReEmergency,” with delightful and melodic keys from David Phipps. This was one of the transitions that truly made Tribe fans feel the most peaceful and grateful.
The familiarity of “Lo Swaga” began slow as STS9 progressed to a sizzling and scorching peak of sound. The set continued with “Luma Daylight” > “Looking Back On Earth,” into an ending and graceful “Oil & Water.”
Attendees braced themselves for the last STS9 set to began. When STS9 came back out, it was for a dynamic and compelling “Possibilities,” individually grasping each attendee’s attention and intertwining it with love and passion.
One of the smoothest transitions of the weekend was the switch into “Poseidon,” leading the crowd to dance in unison with the heavy bass lines that makes up this powerful song. STS9 played an extension jam throughout the three times they returned to the robust and vigorous melody. They continued the energy and kept the crowd elevated with a “One, Two, Three,” into “Squares & Cubes.” Next, HB led the way into a strong and guitar-filled “Beyond Right Now.”
Next, they transitioned into a crowd-pleasing “Metameme,” where all attendees were swaying together in unison throughout the journey of sounds and immense instrumental talent. They ended the set with a crunchy and funk-filled “Wika Chikana,” leaving the guests feeling extremely satisfied and grateful for the weekend, whilst always wanting more. The peak of this “Wika Chikana” sounded like every member of the band on the most blissful full blast of their sound, which then fully circled back to the heavy bass lines and crunch that is Wika.
STS9 came back out for their final song with a soft and delightful “Baraka” to end one of the most legendary weekends of the summer.
SoDown took the crowd away with his heavy and vast electronic novelties, accompanied by live instrumentation. SoDown excels in performing live infusion of his saxophone with wild, eclectic bass music, leading to a high energy set at Wave Spell.
He was followed by Maddy O’Neal who brought her versatile mixing style and skills to the late-night stage. Her set was backed by her house music-driven beats intertwined with original songs full of melodic overtunes, driven basslines and jazzy hip-hop. Yak Attack finished off the last official night of music with a high-energy set to conclude the weekend at Wave Spell Live.
Many attendees conversed throughout the weekend on how it was difficult to describe the monumental talent and musical skills shown during Wave Spell, and how it was hard to express the amount of love and community that was established and transformed throughout the STS9 years. As fest-goers began to go their separate ways, there was a sense of comfort in knowing they are all bound by the same love of the same band. STS9 will be performing three nights in Denver this week, beginning at The Paramount Theatre, and followed by two nights at Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater.
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