Wednesday 10 September 2014

Live Review: Last Days of Ancient Sunlight, Sleep. The Troubadour, Los Angeles. 31/8/2014

There are few bands that can really touch your soul, take you away from reality and make you enter theirs, taking you on a journey where you can close your eyes and drift away.

Coming out of the comfort of their Holy Mountain, California Doomsters, Sleep embarked on their tour this summer bringing us their spine tingling monolith of sound. Eager and excited to see them, it was a dream come true for a Sleep fan such as myself, I had never been so excited for a show in a long time, Sleep was going to play Los Angeles and I was not going to miss out. I was so excited for this show I couldn’t sleep all night prior to the show, I felt like a child who was going to an amusement park the next day. The day of the show came and as I made my way to The Troubadour, it felt like I was on a religious pilgrimage while I was stuck in traffic on the freeway. Upon arrival as I waited in line to get in, it was apparent that true fans of the band where here and most of them serious fans of Doom metal as Saint Vitus, Black Sabbath, Pallbearer and Windhand shirts could be spotted everywhere.

Ready to Drop out of life with bong in hand, We followed the smoke to the riff filled land, the doors of the Troubadour were finally open and after a quick search from security we were inside the venue and I posted myself right in front of the stage. A friend of mine went over to investigate the merch table, sadly not much was available.  As you may know Sleep merch sells fast and is in high demand. I was first row, and I was ready for the experience, the moment could not get any better as the venue was small and I knew this would be an intimate experience between the crowd and the band. However the moment did get better, walking down the stairs in the corner from the upstairs booth was the legend himself, Al Cisneros. I had never before met Al, so as soon as I spotted him I took my chance and approached him. WIth my hand out I said, “Nice to meet you”, he shook my hand and replied, “Nice to meet you, I hope you enjoy the show”. I had finally met Al Cisneros, a man who’s bass playing has inspired me over the years, it felt unreal. “Oh I will”, I said to him excited and he saluted me as he went back upstairs after a brief conversation. I returned to the front of the stage as it was time for the opening act to begin their set.

The opening act, Last Days of Ancient Sunlight started their set and as they began playing it was apparent that they came to play some straight up rock n roll. The three piece was very good and they sure did sound great as the band could be heard well with bass, guitar, drums and vocals all being very clear. As I observed the crowd, I could see signals of approval as heads were bobbing throughout the audience. Everyone on the stage shined as the band was jamming enjoying themselves, the crowd enjoying the ripping guitar solos and prominent bass lines accompanied by some good drumming. Overall Last Days of Ancient Sunlight was pleasing and a great opener for what we were about to experience and as they ended their set applause and cheers were heard in the crowd.

The time had arrived, the roadies began to take down the opening act’s equipment and began to make room for Sleep. An enormous Bass rig on the left side and a beautiful looking Guitar set up on the right, you could already feel that this was going to be incredible. The subsonic wall of equipment was set up and after a bit of a wait the lights on the amplifiers began to glow red, Sleep had taken the Stage.  My Doom Metal heroes stood before me and after a soundbyte of a NASA mission echoed through the PA system Sleep began their set, the journey had begun.

As they began ‘Sonic Titan’, I could feel Jason Roeder's drums in my gut as he pounded them with force and Al Cisneros’ bass lines made the hairs on my body stand up, it felt incredible. Guitarist Matt Pike sounded perfect, his tone was as usual peerless and exactly as heard on record, Sleep still has it after all these years. There was no disappointment at all, as everything was just as I heard it on record for so many years and soon I became mesmerized by their impeccable sound. I turned to my friend to check on him and noticed his eyes were closed as he too was stuck in a trance, bobbing his head to the music. The smell of Marijuana was very strong in the crowd and it lasted all the way to the end, as I expected it to since I was of course, at a Sleep show. Eventually they broke into the opening of ‘Dopesmoker’ and as the song progressed the crowd was anticipating the moment when Frontman Al Cisneros would finally sing into the microphone the first lines of the track. The time came and as he sang, not only his voice echoed throughout the venue but also many voiced from the crowd sang along with him, “Drop..out...of life..with...bong... in hand”.

As expected the set reached the classic trackHoly Mountain off of the album of the same name, which was truly magical to experience and was followed by the classic ‘Aquarian’. They moved on to play ‘The Clarity’, their newest track which was recently released, it fit perfectly in their set list as it sounds like classic Sleep, putting you in the zone and making your listening experience one you can get really lost in. Closing the set with the rifftastic ‘Dragonaut’ andCultivator’, Sleep finished their set on a high note and when the smoke cleared the fans did not get enough! Seeing Sleep was everything I thought it would be, I feel like I went on a spiritual journey as throughout the show I felt like I was high on the music. In the end I also managed to get a pair of Drumsticks from Drummer Jason Roeder which were used during ‘Dopesmoker’! If you have not seen Sleep, if you are a diehard fan or not, you need to catch these legends live it is an amazing experience!

Words: Frank Heredia