SLEEP Concert Review (Fonda Theatre)

“Fully Awake For Sleep”

On Friday January 27, 2016 I witnessed from the front row a most compelling concert spectacle. Over a thousand eager fans filled the Fonda Theatre, awaiting the stoner doom metal band Sleep for their sold-out concert.

Admittedly, for the sake of transparency and full disclosure, my appreciation and awareness of the band is relatively newfound, with my first experience seeing them a few years ago at the Burgerama music festival at the Santa Ana Observatory where I randomly walked into the crowded main stage area to witness what was to ultimately become an hour long rendition of their anthemic song “Dopesmoker.”  I was blown away by the unrelenting, sludgy intensity of their performance, as well as the energy of the enthralled crowd. Soon thereafter I played the full album on Christmas Eve when I DJ’ed at a local college radio station, eliciting inquisitive (and at times upset phone calls) from listeners. I knew I was onto something special if I could upset folks that would have been more satisfied with predictably traditional holiday fair! Since then Sleep has had a special place in my heart and I was eager to see them live as a new musical convert.

After watching the Melvins open (click here for a review of their performance as well as video interview with Buzz Osborne), the audience was privy to recorded “beeps” and radio transmissions from the Apollo moon landing, informing fans of the “journey” that they were in store for.

Matt Pike, channeling the spirit of Lemmy Kilmister (with awesome handlebar moustache and shirtless minimalism) stood imposingly in front of a wall of Orange amps, while bearded vocalist and bassist Al Cisneros channeled an indefinable energy into his vocal intonations and bass plucking. Drummer Jason Roeder (of Neurosis fame) was in fine form, giving his custom built drum kit a hearty workout. The bass was heavy, the guitar fuzzy and the spirit and intensity of the performance razor sharp, cutting through the audience’s eardrums like a knife through warm butter.

Highlights of the night included “Holy Mountain,” “From Beyond,” and “Cultivator Morris.”

As an aside, I was very happy to benefit from the band’s impressive merch booth selection of materials including, fittingly enough, pillowcases (!) and shirts. I was pleased to pick up a vinyl reissue of “Dopesmoker” for a modest $30 to add to my collection. Also available were vinyl copies of Sleep’s new laser etched 12 inch single release “The Clarity” which fans gobbled up like E.T. consuming Reese’s Pieces left by Elliot.  If you would like to score some of these gems, cruise on over to sleep.merchtable.com.

After the show I got to talk to “Danger” Ehren and Rick (of Jackass fame), who were hanging out with Matt from the band.  Apparently Ehren and Rick are documenting Sleep’s performances and will be releasing footage in the near future so subscribe to @dangerehren on Instagram and Twitter for updates on their projects!

For the latest info on Sleep, follow them on Twitter at @sleep_official and on Facebook at facebook.com/officialsleep.

Jason Reed
Inner Edge Music

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