STS9: Thoughts on Murphy’s Departure and NYE ‘14

Written and photographed by Eileen Mellon

STS9 at The Tabernacle in Atlanta, Ga.

Still living off the high that followed Sound Tribe Sector Nine’s New Year’s Eve show, I was speechless when I found out that the bassist, frontman, and heart of STS9, David Murphy, was parting ways with the band after more than 15 years. I was crushed and filled with a strange nostalgia that New Year’s Eve had probably been the last time I would ever see Murphy jam with STS9.

The specific reason Murphy is leaving Sound Tribe is unclear. He released this statement regarding his departure via Facebook:
"It is with a very sad and heavy heart that I announce I am parting ways with STS9. While we have had an amazing experience together, our paths are taking us in different directions creatively and personally. My deepest apologies go out to all of our fans who have supported us through thick and thin. I will never be able to fully express my gratitude for everything y’all have given me. I wish STS9 the best and hope to see y’all down the road…I LOVE Y’all"
Sound Tribe is one of those bands that always leaves fans wanting more. After a show my face hurts from smiling, my heart feels full, and I have a skip in my step from having such a memorable night. I crave that energy and the escape that a night with Sound Tribe brings.

Although change is one of the only constants in this world, Murphy parting ways with STS9 doesn’t feel right. When I close my eyes and bring myself back to that moment where I feel their music pulsating through my body and complete bliss, Murphy is playing and Murphy is amping up the crowd.

I wish Murphy the best of luck on his future musical endeavors and although I am saddened by his decision, it was just that, his decision. I’m intrigued to see what Sound Tribe has in store after cancelling its winter tour. Tour dates will resume in March with McDowell Mountain Music Festival in Phoenix, Ariz., followed by other festival appearances at Counterpoint, Hangout Fest, and Wakarusa.

New Year’s Eve at The Tabernacle

In need of an escape, I bought two tickets to see Sound Tribe play in its hometown, Atlanta Ga., on a five-night New Year’s Eve run. I had never been to The Tabernacle, or Atlanta for that matter, and I was welcomed with a warm dose of southern hospitality.

Entering The Tabernacle felt like an adventure with nooks and crannies off of the multi-level, refurbished church. Eclectic paint accented the walls and every turn brought a different room with vintage plush couches, windows offering a view of downtown, and beverage and food areas. The excitement factor was anteed with every clack of my boots as I anxiously waited to hear my favorite band throw down.

This was a feeling I welcomed after seeing STS9 perform every two months for the past year and a half; I was ready to start 2014 the same way.

When Sound Tribe came on stage that night, it was welcomed by a booming crowd of happy faced fans ready to do the damn thing. And I say “thing” because it was an experience, an epic gathering and celebration that, as it was occurring, I knew would be a night I held dear to my heart. The band began with MOD and then took it back with some older material such as “What is Love?” “Music Us,” and “Luma Sunrise.”

After the first set, I remember glancing at the time, anxious for the start of the new year and the second set. STS9 returned and opened up with “Monkey Music” and eased into a funky drum jam before the lights dimmed.

“10,9,8!” David Murphy said as he led the New Year’s countdown, surrounded by over 4,000 fans. “7,6,5,4!” The intensity was building and as I looked around I was in awe of all the smiling and ecstatic faces that surrounded me, our energy and positive vibrations made it feel like The Tabernacle was shaking. “3,2,1!” The air filled with streamers, illuminating the venue as the clock struck midnight. Happy New Year!

STS9 at The Tabernacle in Atlanta, Ga.

It was perfect.

The night continued with songs like “Aimlessly,” “March,” and “Breathe In.” Sound Tribe reemerged for an encore and played “4 Year Puma,” and then the breathtaking “Circus,” a crowd favorite that made me glad to be exactly where I was, unified with the people surrounding me.

That night transformed me, restoring a much needed faith to keep trucking forward, to appreciate every moment, and to live life. My eyes were opened, my heart was filled, and I was simply happy. My trip to Atlanta was all for that night and I wouldn’t have changed a moment.

I had become part of the Sound Tribe family, basked in their funky and soul-searching tunes, and experienced an energy and musical style at their shows that was untouchable.

STS9’s sound is like no other and it has established itself as one of the most influential jam bands mixing everything from instrumental rock, electronic music, funk, jazz, drum and bass, psychedelia, and hip hop. The band will never be the same without Murphy and I cherish every experience I’ve shared with him and the rest of the band.

Listen to the New Year's Eve show.

Eileen Mellon is a Virginia Commonwealth University graduate and freelance reporter with a passion for journalism and meeting new people. Curious by nature, she lives her life traveling, writing, being outdoors, and exploring the opportunities every day has to offer. She currently resides in Richmond, Va.
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