Reviews > Shows
STS9 Axe the Winery
Photo by Derek Martinez
The Mountain Winery
Nestled in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, the Mountain Winery in Saratoga, California, a century old chateau turned amphitheater, served as the setting for a special Axe the Cables evening of acoustic Sound Tribe Sector 9 dubbed “Axe the Winery.” The unique venue combined with the band’s roots in nearby Santa Cruz created a very surreal atmosphere and high expectations. STS9 did not disappoint and played a very energetic, meaningful, and moving two sets of mostly classic songs from their catalog. The first set opened with two staples,” Kamuy” and “Circus” as the crowd slowly filtered into the venue and featured rarities such as “Dance” and “…And Some Are Angels.” STS9 also played the seldom heard Boards of Canada cover “ROYGBIV” and debuted a new, out of the ordinary take on the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil,” which concluded the first set. By this point in the show the sun had set and lighting designer Saxton Waller was able to fully light up the stage with a scaled back array of lights that fit the historical Mountain Winery setting perfectly.
After a brief set break, the band returned to the stage with the methodically building “Equinox” and then worked their way through the second half of the show with a predominately old school setlist featuring “Square & Cubes,” “Wika Chikana,” and “Grow,” which all were given their first Axe the Cables treatment. This was the seventh installment of Axe the Cables, which seems to be an endlessly evolving label for computerless but not completely acoustic renditions of STS9 songs. For those not happy with the direction the band went with the laptop heavy Peaceblaster and subsequent releases, the Axe the Cable shows are a welcome blast from the past showcasing stripped down versions of the beautiful livetronica STS9 made famous early last decade.
After an upbeat “Rent,” bassit David Murphy thanked the crowd before the encore and hinted about the possibility of making Axe the Winery an annual event. The show ended on a high note with another set of rarities, “Frequencies 2>3” and “Breathe In” to close out a magical night of music in the Bay Area. Although many STS9 fans on the West Coast were disappointed in the cancellation of Re:Generation originally scheduled for June at Horning’s Hideout, the Mountain Winery show and the High Sierra performances from July served as ample consolations for those lucky enough to attend. The creative acoustic takes on the music, the unique setting of the concert, and the formal attire adorned by the band and many of the fans culminated in a one of a kind performance that will hopefully serve as the foundation for a yearly destination event.
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