To cap off a three-day run in Denver, STS9 offered up a special late afternoon matinee for the Sunday crowd, delivering a quasi-acoustic Axe The Cables set that led into golden hour, before returning for a jazz and funk improvised Wave Spell set two.
Fans arrived early in droves despite the blistering hot mid-afternoon sun mercifully relented by the time STS9 took the stage around 6 p.m. It was the band’s debut performance at Levitt Pavilion, a new-ish addition to the Denver area’s healthy smattering of outdoor seasonal venues. The grassy sloped bowl provided a comfortable and spacious setup for all in attendance and the band lapped up the new scenery and channeled the crowd’s effusive energy to deliver a memorable and exceptional finale.
While not technically a fully acoustic setup (guitarist Hunter Brown played electric for the set), the rare Axe set once again provided fans a different look and sound departure from the usual, with David Phipps on a grand piano and bassist Alana Rocklin trading off a standup and acoustic bass. Classics like the opening “Tap-In” and the highlighting “Dance” into “Inspire” set closer bookended a tasteful set replete with rarities like “Call” and a tease of “Gift for Gaia,” which has not been played in over a decade.
Dusk began to set in by the time Wave Spell commenced and the band played a loose, hour-plus of mostly jazz and funk-inspired improv that I can’t wait to hear on relisten. A vintage encore of “Surreality” and “EB” capped off the band’s big return to the live stage and the beginning of their third chapter. Rejuvenated and recharged, STS9 played as an inspired ensemble hungry to continue pushing boundaries for years to come.
Set One — Axe The Cables: Jam > Tap In, Call > ReEmergence, Days Out of Time, The Paint, Menacer, Dance > Inspire Strikes Back
Set Two — Wave Spell: Improvisation
Encore: Surreality, EB
 with Gift for Gaia tease