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Sleep & Helen Money Live at Portland’s Roseland Theater

P{hotos by Alyssa Herrman, Foto Phortress Words by Josh Nichols
Photos by Alyssa Herrman, Foto Phortress
Words by Josh Nichols

For a band that hasn’t put out a new album this century, Sleep certainly draws a crowd. It’s no wonder, with their storied history and legendary status. The fact is, they’ve only dropped one new track in recent memory: The Clarity, via the Adult Swim singles program in 2014. They aren’t just another nostalgia act, with $50 posters and $30 t-shirts(literally). The individual members of Sleep each have well established and long running bands(High On Fire, Om, and Neurosis). Their near-constant work schedule makes them masters of their trade, but they still manage to get together as Sleep between ten and twenty times a year; and there is no shortage of devotees waiting to soak it in.

Said devotees bought out the seated upstairs of Portland’s Roseland Theater a month prior to the show on Saturday, October 22. The remaining tickets sold the week before. Helen Money was slated as the opening act. She brought a somewhat melancholy vibe to a crowd ready for heavy riffs and serious head banging. To anyone unfamiliar with the work of Alison Chesley, the artist that is Helen Money was an unusual choice for such a very specific crowd. Her creative use of the cello with some sparse accompanying percussion and piano tracks creates an intense and subdued atmosphere that is both somber and delicate, and at times visceral and severe.

After the set change, the solemnity of setting out 20 water bottles one at a time, and their traditional 15 minutes of moon landing recording, the arrival of Jason Roeder, the always shirtless Matt Pike, and Al Cisneros (all in red like a rajneesh mystic). As they lit into “Dragonaut,” the crowd commenced swaying and thrashing. This show pulled mostly from Holy Mountain with a chunk of Jerusalem/Dopesmoker at the end.

Sleep wasted little time with banter, in fact barely they communicated with each other except for occasional glances. It wasn’t business as usual, just very engaged. They appeared and sounded connected to what they were doing as if there was no time to waste on anything else. After 90 minutes elapsed all too quickly, they thanked everyone for coming and disappeared. No banter. No encore.

–Josh Nichols

Helen Money


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