Volume: Sleep/Sub Oslo – Mohawk, Austin, TX 09/10/10

“Hey fool, you got that Sleep Holy Mountain on vinyl in yet?” I must’ve heard that question at least 3 times per week at my record store from March 1994 through October 1995 from my friend Frank. Sadly,

I had the same response every time. “No Frank, I haven’t.” We would laugh and that would be the end of it.

This was my introduction to the band Sleep.

Without ever hearing Holy Mountain or Sleep for that matter, this was already a legendary album to me. When I finally heard it several years later, I understood why Frank wanted it so badly. It was awesome. The Bay Area Stoner Rock trio were pretty much everything I figured they would be. They had broken up not too long after their final trek through Dallas in ’94, and I had basically reserved myself to the fact I would never see them, but at least we had Al CisnerosOM and Matt Pike’s High On Fire, which the members had formed in the years after Sleep’s legend began. Therefore when the aforementioned Frank told me earlier this year they would be doing some reunion shows, I was in. Absolutely. The only TX date in Austin? Sure, no problem. Only it was a problem when I got the message from another friend, Jay, that the show had sold out and I hadn’t gotten a ticket yet. I was crushed. I had to go. It was imperative that I see this show.

In the end, Jay came through for me. I would see Sleep.

You can put OM and High On Fire together perfectly with this band: Cisneros’ OM with their meditative calm driving rhythm section and monotonous near chant-like vocals, coupled with the fury of Pike’s High On Fire is exactly what you would think Sleep would sound like.

As Sleep took the stage, Mohawk turned into an ear splitting, sweat filled, churning bong. I don’t know that I have ever been in the presence of such a copious amount of weed openly smoked at a club show in my life. Thus began their ambitious 2 hour plus set, comprised of the entire Holy Mountain album, along with select passages from Dopesmoker, their single track hour-long album that essentially got them dropped from their label and broke up the band. (Dopesmoker would later be chopped into parts and released against the band’s wishes as Jerusalem.)

Guitarist Pike was all over his portion of the stage, whereas vocalist/bassist Al Cisneros was content to keep to himself and near his mic. Neurosis drummer Jason Roeder was along for this 11 day, 11 city run across the states, which must have been a blur whirlwind to anyone on the tour, catching flights to each town, with the majority of their shows well out of driving range. It might not have been the original lineup of the band, but I’m sure it’s the closest I will ever get to seeing them.

Fort Worth natives Sub Oslo set the mood for the evening, with their laid back experimental dub-reggae. I hadn’t seen Sub Oslo in way too long, and it was a treat, even if guitarist Frank Cervantes no longer asks me for Sleep’s Holy Mountain on vinyl anymore. I’m pretty sure he has it. I hope we get to see more of Sub Olso in the months to come.

I will probably never get another chance to see Sleep. But this is another renowned act I have finally seen.

And I owe it all to Jay.

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~ by thesynaptic on September 21, 2010.

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