Photographs by Sue Sadzak.
Reactivated stoner-metal outfit Sleep packed the Phoenix rammed full of an older-than-expected crowd last night ready to get their weekend started with a hazy blissed out vibe.
The San Jose trio disbanded in the mid-90s when their label balked at the idea of releasing their one-track 70-plus minute Dopesmoker. Guitarist Matt Pike and bassist Al Cisneros reactivated the band six years ago with a new drummer and finally made their way to Toronto.
With little fuss or fanfare the trio ambled on stage and for the next 100 minutes did their best to peel the paint off the Phoenix’s walls with sludgy Black Sabbath-approved riffs at an intense volume. The Phoenix held up its end of the bargain quite nicely and kept the sound clear despite the band’s attempt to test the limits.
Opening with new track “The Clarity” the 8 songs played focused on 1992’s Sleep’s Holy Mountain and a not-70 minute version of “Dopesmoker”. The stage set-up and presentation was surprisingly simple with a basic lighting rig and not much for any frills and additives. Not that it was really needed but at times I did close my eyes and imagine some intense visual rides.
And no that was not a smoke machine, but you wouldn’t be alone if you thought it was or if you questioned if the province’s smoking laws were enforced. And everyone left smelling like Otto’s jacket!
Nonetheless the packed crowd ate it up surrendering to the intense onslaught coming from the stage. Despite the intensity, it was also quite hypnotic and I found it quite easy to get lost in a trance. The crowd roared its herbified best, where 100 minutes seemed like 20 and before you knew it the horrible reality that the show was over, the cold outside awaited, and who knew when this trio would return to town.
Thanks to Inertia Entertainment for media access.