Originally published on BandsThatJam.com 10/28/2011 <— click the link for photos by Nick Irving!
This past Saturday night, STS9 made a stop on their extensive fall tour to spend some time in New York City. They played at Times Square’s Best Buy Theater (formally the Nokia Theater) and the scene outside was just as busy as the rest of the Square. Fingers were up for the sold out show and even though police were present, the “lot” kids designated a corner for smoking and selling wraps adjacent to the venue.
Getting in was no problem, security was loose and the spacious theater is quite welcoming. DJ opener Polish Ambassador had over an hour before STS9’s set but unfortunately, he didn’t captivate many of the people who were already there and even the chaos by the Theater bars was more exciting. Some people retired to the seats in the upper section of Best Buy and were bobbing their heads to the standard, mixed dance beats, and a few were kindly supporting the DJ, probably more as placeholders for the main act.
When the lights went down and fog machines when on, “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails drifted through the PA and coaxed the band on stage. They started off a heavy set with some newer selections; appropriately, “Scheme” was the opener, which doubles as the first track on the new album, When the Dust Settles. They made their way somewhat statically to the peak of the set, “Inspire Strikes Back,” allowing the groove and excitement of that song to carry them back in time to fan favorites like “Arigato,” “Squares and Cubes,” and “Shock Doctrine.” The set ended on a high energy, free flowing vibe with the thumping closer, “What is Love.”
Set break was a wild rush to the cushioned seats or to line-up for the smoking section (yes, there was a line and it was huge). For the most part, people were impressed with the show thus far, though there were a handful of apparently long-time fans that thought it was poorly executed and did not appreciate the overzealous lights as attempt to make up for it, or for their lack of live painters and other on-stage side entertainment. Truthfully, the light show was a little more than usual, but the Best Buy Theater’s versatile space and extensive rig might have allowed for lighting director Saxton Waller to have a little more fun.
Second set’s opener, “Hidden Hand, Hidden Fist” was similar to first set’s in its slow, murky build to the steady drop beats that support a barely interesting melody. It’s what people didn’t love about Peaceblaster that the long-time fans at set break don’t like about Dust, and to follow “Hidden Hand…” with the new albums’ title track did not make either of them look good. “20-12” seemed to give a new spirit to the faded dance party, which the band did a good job of continually re-igniting until the explosive “Unquestionable Supremacy of Nature” closer. As one of the few STS9 songs that never fails to impress, “Nature” got anyone who had lost hope up and grooving and was easily the set’s savior.
Maybe to compensate, or maybe because they were on a roll, the “Circus” encore was similarly vibrant and moving, just what the crowd needed as a night-cap to a pretty decent show. Not their best, but certainly not their worst, STS9 impressed a large majority of the crowd, and did their best to please the fans who have stuck with them since the beginning, all the while showing off some fresher tunes and giving them room to grow as well.