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Sleep @ Brooklyn Masonic Temple

Story and photo by Jess Blumensheid

. . .

I remember the blackness clogging my perception. My fingers scaled bumpy paint as I felt my way along a wall. My head throbbed, and my sight weakened. Faint shadows entered my tunnel vision, as sweat caked every inch of my body. I thought I’d fall any second. What prevented me from collapsing of heat exhaustion were my will and the force of Al Cisneros’ bass lines.

We sacrificed oxygen and space for weed and doom. The three weedians of Sleep fashioned their two-hour set with their best bluesy classics and excerpts from the 59-minute “Dopesmoker”. When Sleep awoke with the song’s first strike, Al’s glazed moans felt like home. He and drummer Jason Roeder remained stoic, unlike Matt Pike, whose stringy hair flailed back and forth in sync with his guitar. When Jason and Al finally marched their way in during “Dopesmoker,” they did so with hammering grace.

At first, fans erupted. They dove from the stage, moshed in the crowd, and even flung their hair and bodies over the balcony, which was particularly interesting during the quietest parts of “From Beyond”. But during elongated moments of silence, fans drank beers and chatted loudly, as if they were at some gallery opening.

. . .

First 15 minutes of set

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. . .

As Al’s persistent head counts and foot taps proved, Sleep didn’t miss a beat. Why do people at doom shows bob their heads while notes linger in dead space? Perhaps it’s because we anticipate each strike – and we can hardly contain our excitement for what’s to come.

The set turned from hints of Dopesmoker to Sleep’s Holy Mountain and beyond. Sleep paid sweet homage to Tony Iommi with “Dragonaut”, “Nain’s Baptism”, and “The Druid”, and even through a shot of the “deity” projected on stage – as if we needed reminding of how Sleep got their groove.

One doesn’t have to be on drugs to appreciate these riffs, no matter how slow they are. The music becomes your pulse. And whether you feel it immediately or near the end of a show, your stamina will weaken, and those milky bass lines and moaning guitars will overcome your senses.

— Jess Blumensheid

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