BEING THERE: Sleep @ Union Transfer

Photo by DAN LONG

It was easy to fade into the ether last night. Between the langorous doom-riddled sludge of Windhand and the colossal cannabinoidal metallurgy of Sleep, one could get seriously lost in the shear density of each performance, not to mention all the sonic ooze lathering the venue much to the absolute delight of the sold out crowd at Union Transfer. Bodies were flung, necks were tested, weed was incinerated and any unplugged ears, I’m certain, were rendered inoperable within the first few minutes of Sleep’s set. Following a series of recorded NASA transmissions which aired as the tech crew checked equipment, bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros, guitarist Matt Pike and drummer Jason Roeder, plugged in and delivered what was almost two hours of breakneck intensity. Cisneros, who stood hunched over his Rickenbacker, summoned low-end eruptions that would send tremors through your limbs. And Pike was an absolute showman, working his fingers across the frets with the confidence and ease of a seasoned artist. His presence dominated most of Sleep’s performance, and the crowd would send applause his way after he’d finish a solo. Most of Sleep’s set was built from their 1993 stoner-metal classic Holy Mountain, and it was songs like “From Beyond,” “The Druid” and “Dragonaut” that elicited the most aggressive reactions from the crowd, who were flailing about the floor and generally keeping the Union Transfer’s bouncers busy. In one of the few instances of crowd interaction, Cisneros asked the crowd for a “moment of reverence for Tony Iommi” following a performance of the band’s new single, “The Clarity.” A section of the band’s 60-minute masterpiece, Dopesmoker, closed out the show. As band members exited the stage, Cisneros gingerly placed his Rickenbacker on the platform and meditated over it as a wavering racket pulsated. The techs began to disassemble the stage before Cisneros finally got up, waved and left. — SEAN CALDWELL