Sleep, the ultimate Stoner/Doom Rock band from San Jose pulled, into Oakland on the only Bay Area stop of their current tour. They proceeded to blow away all expectations, knock the doors off the historic Fox Theater and rock the hell out of everyone in attendance.
After getting out of work late, I picked up Taylor Carlton and steered my truck onto I-80 from Truckee full throttle. Destination: Oakland. The anticipation of seeing San Jose’s Sleep perform in the Bay Area show meant nothing was going to get in our way. Not Cal -Trans construction, Sacramento traffic nor the many skateparks littering the side streets of almost every town on the way. The mission for the day was rock n roll and that’s what we had on our agenda. Finally burning through a tank of gas, our bodies fueled by countless drinks, candy and loud music, we pulled into Oakland just in time to see the sun setting on the Bay behind the iconic marquee of Oakland’s historic Fox Theater.
Once we met up with friends from near and far at a bar across the street, much needed beers were quickly gulped down and we wasted no time heading into the theater and were greeted by a full house of die hard metal heads all there for the same reason: Sleep. The opening bands were finished up their sets and we promptly grabbed a few more beers and headed to the floor to ensure good spots for the main event.
For those unfamiliar with Sleep, they are the pinnacle of Stoner/Doom Rock. Think Black Sabbath in the 70’s, turned up to bone rattling volumes. Slow, steady, loud and rockin. The Fox was the perfect venue with its timeless decor and massive sound system that lend itself perfectly to Sleeps throwback metal sound. Seeing Sleep live is more than an auditory experience. Their music is so loud that your whole body reverberates with every slow chord until borderline hypnosis. It must be fully experienced to really understand.
Soon enough, the lights dimmed, fuzz began to seep from the speakers and smoke filled the dark room. Sleep took to the stage with original members Al Cisneros on bass/vocals and guitarist Matt Pike front and center with new member Jason Roeder, formerly of Neurosis, behind on drums. Pike, in classic form, was shirtless, tattooed, and wielding his guitar like a medieval warrior with his weapon. And then it began. Thundering right into a abbreviated version “Dopesmoker,” their 56 minute epic, the band continued to unrelenting pummel the packed house with song after song. A pure avalanche of sound that seemed like it could crush both the building and the crowd at any moment. After a full two-hour onslaught of non-stop, bone jarring riffs that started loud and proceeded to get unfathomably louder, the band put down their instruments and casually walked off stage. Everything you wanted to hear was there. “Dragonaut,” “Holy Mountain,” “The Druid” and more; possibly even a new song thrown into the mix when least expected.
Sleep exceeded everyone’s expectations and then some at the Fox, it was truly a night to remember. We and the hundreds of other metal headed lumbered out of the theater and into the mean streets of Oakland, pumped up and ready to take on anything else the night would throw at us.
Any fan of Black Sabbath, Stoner/Doom Rock or heavy music in general should drop anything they think their doing to see the show at all costs. You will leave with your head ringing, earplugs or not, but it is a full body musical experience unlike any other. Do yourself a favor and check Sleep out if at all possible, you will not be disappointed. Take a look at the gallery below for more pictures.