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Sleep, Black Wizard at Commodore Ballroom

Tuesday 03rd, March 2015 / 16:30
By Heath Fenton
Sleep at Commodore Ballroom. Photo: Tiina Liimu

Sleep at Commodore Ballroom.
Photo: Tiina Liimu

February 7, 2015

VANCOUVER — Approaching the Commodore, you could hear the sounds of a concert from the street. So in the rush to catch the opening set of Bell Witch, there was no Bell Witch to be found. Instead, local up and comers Black Wizard were at the helm. A pleasant surprise indeed, and it showed as they gleefully nailed their Sabbath-friendly upbeat set. It was solid considering they probably found out on the day of the show that they’d be playing.

This band was a nice contrast to what would take place next. Sleep was in order and Sleep was in the house. The drones flew in at a tepid pace as these wise folk of stoner doom eased their way into their infamous Dopesmoker. With a crowd on board, head nodders were mesmerized in agreement with every riff. There were rumblings in the rumour pit that they would play the entire opus, but it was just a tease, albeit a joyous, long tease.

In a classic “legendary band reforms” style, they got the new song “The Clarity,” out of the way and just to be clear, it slayed. The room was buzzing and you could tell that the people in attendance came to hear the classics from these icons and they did not disappoint. When they broke into “Dragonaut” the crowd woke up with a roar. Sleep’s Holy Mountain was covered.

Mike Pike’s guitar riffs have always been monumental and they were out in full force. Drummer Jason Roeder was a little too upbeat, lacking the laid-back stoner groove present in the records. He was almost too good for the hypnotic prodding of Pike’s slow axe grind. But this also made the band seem tighter and more powerful. They played their songs right on the button and vocalist/bass player Al Cisneros was spot on.

I was a little surprised to the lack of actual dope smoking going on. Either the Commodore security was high on alert or possibly Sleep’s riffs were the weed of the hour and all the head nodders were simply spaced out with amazement forgetting to light one up.

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