Sleep & Bongripper Live at Chicago’s Thalia Hall
As Matt Pike sauntered on stage on January 26, naked from the waist up, as he always does, I smiled. There are a few things in this life that give me comfort in an ever changing and sometimes unsteady world. Experiencing powerful and daunting bands like Sleep live is one such example. I have a feeling the crowd shared in this sentiment because they erupted the moment Pike set foot on stage.
Sleep plays the type of show people talk about for years to come. I’m sure any bed within at least 10 blocks of the sold out show at Thalia Hall in Chicago felt like Magic Fingers from the amount of thunderous bass that came from the seminal doom trio. Pike, in true rock star fashion, smirked and flung picks into the crowd as bassist Al Cisneros belted out the lyrics to “Dragonaut.” This song was clearly a favorite from the deafening shout that filled the hall at its beginning. The crowd rocked in unison, bits of ceiling rained down on my head, it was glorious.
Sleep is important. Since their formation in 1990, Sleep have wielded outsize influence in the areas of doom and stoner metal. Their 2003 release, Dopesmoker, was recently praised by the New York Times. The band, however, can only be truly appreciated when seen live. Equal parts sublime and experimental, with upward of 10 minutes in length, their music is easy to get lost in.
Support for this show came from Chicago natives Bongripper, and their entrancing performance created an atmosphere that Sleep followed effortlessly. I had the pleasure of seeing these guys live for the first time just a month ago with Goatsnake and Pelican. They have a unique way of drawing in the crowd using elongated, almost slow motion movements and chord strikes. They have a massive sound, the type that makes your internal organs feel like they are receiving a massage from ghosts.
You can, if you’re lucky enough to be a ticketholder, catch Sleep next when they open for Neurosis during their 30th anniversary shows in March.