Hard Riffs Rule As Sleep Incinerates First Ave Saturday Night


Doom metal rockers Sleep brought a solid wall of sound to the sold out First Ave. Mainroom on Saturday night. The No Cal based band has been together since ’91, with a few hiatuses thrown in for good measure. The band is out touring in support of their Third Man Records release The Sciences.

Opening for Sleep on Saturday night were Big Business. The Mainroom was near capacity for band, the duo had a large and rowdy fanbase. Self-described as psychedelic heavy metal punk rock, they hit all of these bases and more. Loud, heavy and in your face was how the band hit the patrons that filled the floor. For just two members, Big Business sounded like a full 5-piece band.

Sleep started the evening with the recorded Moon Landing Radio Transmission. The band then came out, Matt Pike hitting heavily distorted power chords, and  broke into “Dopesmoker”. This version was heavy. How heavy? So heavy The Rock couldn’t lift it, a whole other level of heavy. Drummer Jason Roeder beat the cymbals of his crazy custom drum kit like they slept with his girlfriend, arms flailed relentlessly. They didn’t play the entire 60+ minute album version of “Dopesmoker”, but an abbreviated 20 minute version. The setlist was only 8 songs, but each tune got at least 15 minutes of play.

OK, so Sleep have the stoner rock label, Sabbath on Pineapple Kush. They have an album called Dopesmoker that opens with the line “Drop out of life with bong in hand”. However, they really are amazing musician., Pike was the master of the riff on Saturday night, at some points packing more notes into a lead than commuters in a NY city rush hour subway car. He held court on stage like a shirtless, tattooed metal god in front of an insane number of amps. 

 Al Cisneros, beside being one bad ass bass player, is a master storyteller. Tales of flying lizards, deserts and space travel came between booming bass lines thicker than maple syrup. Bone shaking, teeth rattling power chords relentlessly hammered the packed Mainroom. The music surrounds you like a strait jacket and was the real star of the evening. There was little banter between the band and the crowd and the typical performer shout out to Prince didn’t happen.

The band had one of the largest selections of merch I’ve seen outside of a festival. The line was long throughout the evening, at one point winding close the back bar.

Sleep are masters of sonic journeys and heavy riffs and are making some of the best music of their career.

Setlist: Dopesmoker (Through Weedian) – Marijuanaut – Holy Mountain – Sonic Titan – The Clarity – Dragonaut – Leagues Beneath – Cultivator Morris


1 Comment

  1. eh, something was off with the sound, there was a constant wah wah overriding the guitars. left after 3 songs

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