‘Dopesmoker’ In The Southwest: Sleep Live at the Rialto Theatre


If you ever found yourself on a long interstellar journey to a desert planet, you’d probably want some music to while away the endless amount time to your destination. Moreover, you’d likely want some music to set the mood of your flight through space. If you’re like me, then you’ll want to take Sleep’s Dopesmoker with you. Sleep has been around since the 90s, however, I didn’t get into their music until relatively recently. They were part of this genealogy of metal bands that went from death to sludge to stoner that I was consuming after I was introduced to NOLA bands like EyeHateGod and GoatWhore. Sleep, of course, are from San Jose, CA. Nonetheless, they were part of this sonic universe of heavy chords and epic themes of darkness and unreal worlds that emerged from a world influenced less by geography and more by a Giger-esque vision of irreligious beings, which spawned from the subconscious realm of unholy dreams and desire.

As for Dopesmoker, I saw Sleep perform this music live as one of the headliners at the 2015 Southwest Terrorfest in Tucson, AZ, where they took the stage at the historic Rialto Theatre. The band played a twenty-minute version of their hour-long larger-than-life ode to an hallucinatory caravan to Zion, “bong in hand.” If Frank Herbert’s Dune could be purged of its grating Toto-Eno soundtrack and re-scored, I would wholeheartedly advocate for Sleep’s Dopesmoker. I hope you like the video I shot from the back of the venue. Although, as mentioned, Sleep regaled their devoted audience with twenty-minutes of this work, my arms gave out after about eleven minutes or so. Still, it’s a pretty bitchin’ excerpt:

Video credit: David Martínez


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