I don’t normally get starstruck when meeting people I admire, but when I met Matt Pike outside the venue by accident I struggled to get the words out of my mouth when I shook his hand. He is a legend, he has done so much for underground music and influenced thousands of bands and musicians. When Pike departed I walked inside the venue and made my way down the front, the show was about to begin!
Before the kings of stoner metal graced the stage, we had the pleasure of watching Conan for 40 minutes. Conan were a fantastic warm-up act, their music was clearly inspired by the headline act but it was not a clone or carbon copy. This was my fourth time seeing Conan live and once again they did not disappoint. The new material from Revengeance was fantastic to hear live while the classics such as ‘Foehammer’, ‘Total Conquest’ and the magnificent ‘Battle in the Swamp’ were a pleasure to hear live again. Conan in 2016 is a live act to be reckoned with; fast, heavy and louder than an invading army of mammoths. Conan are what is best in life!
In 2015, I had to sell my ticket for Sleep at Desertfest due to financial and stress-related reasons. But now I was seeing them in a sold out venue in some fine company. Before Conan there was stoner and sludge music blasting out of the PA, but before Sleep there was nothing but static and talk between astronauts (or marijuanaut as fans of Sleep lore know them). When the lights dimmed, fog filled the stage and out strode the legends themselves, Sleep. After the crowd died down a familiar riff creeped out of the PA, the opening riff to ‘Dragonaut’. When the song kicked in, there was no stopping the Sleep, the pit had opened, the crowd was losing themselves in the madness as a sea of long weed infused hair shot up and down. When a bearded Al Cisneros sang “Ride the Dragon towards the crimson eye”, everyone joined in, we were in the palm of his hands.
From then on there was no stopping Sleep. ‘Holy Mountain’, ‘The Clarity’ followed with such swagger and ferocity that many bands lack. The smoke continued to fill the stage until drummer Jason Roeder was only barely visible while Al and Matt stood proudly in front of their wall of amps. The band played eight songs in total, aside from choice cuts from Holy Mountain and new song ‘The Clarity’, were also treated to parts of Dopesmoker, hearing those iconic lyrics about the Weedians sent a shiver down the spine, I still get it thinking about it today. When the band walked off stage I was genuinely sad, I couldn’t get over how good it was.
Sleep are undoubtedly at the top of their game and will carry on to be. They are without a doubt the undisputed champions of their genre. They have influenced thousands of bands and been copied by others, but none of these bands come close to the true apprentices of Tony Iommi. Hail Sleep!
Sleep Set List:
2. Holy Mountain
4. The Clarity
5. Sonic Titan
7. From Beyond
8. Cultivator/Improved Morris