Gagarin 205 Club, Athens, Greece
Sometimes you consider that there are things in life that for a reason or more, there is no chance to see them happening. To say this about a gig where I would witness the mighty Sleep would be the least, especially in Greece, but there comes life to surprise me once more and prove that even the most impossible scenario is likely to happen one way or another. Sleep not only decided to reform and do live shows but they chose Greece and especially Athens as one of the places they would visit. What was better was the crowd, as I saw about 600-700 people approximately attending this show, a number that some years ago would sound crazy but it seems that Greeks have found the right taste through the years, even in these hard financial times the country passes through.
I can claim I had a perfect timing with the gig, because as soon as I passed the door of Gagarin 205 Club, then the band came on stage and started torturing their instruments for almost two hours. At first I am trying to crawl through the fans and catch a spot where I would see everything perfect and weed wouldn’t smell that much. I managed to achieve both terms, but the weed smell was present through the whole duration of their set. Prepared for such stuff (it’s difficult when you don’t even smoke, so please no hard feelings against me on that point) I find a good spot right in the middle front of the club and from the beginning I see three deities in front of me, having come to give 101% of themselves.
Matt Pike is the main responsible for some of the heaviest riffs in the history of music, standing so certain he’s going to make people bow to him, a mass of tattoos and rotten teeth with his beer belly having grown way too much and he simply doesn’t care at all, he has already proven this even for the current year with his last High On Fire album ‘’De Vermis Mysteriis’’. of Neurosis is the drummer that accompanies the band in this tour, and it’s like a dream coming true, as I have always considered him a great player and a very important part of the whole Neurosis influence on newer bands. His tribal and steady style finds a great successor to the great Chris Hakius, who wasn’t behind the drum kit, but I didn’t miss him at all.
I left Al Cisneros last, not because he’s of more or less importance, nor because I have seen him twice with OM, but because from the first second of the gig, he’s somewhere else, surely not in this world, but fully aware of what’s happening. This emblematic figure tortures his bass like a rhythm guitar player but with the comfort of a skilled player, the distortion is in the red and by simply putting his head below his shoulders, he moves his head back and forth, until it’s time for him to sing (or better scream) and leave everyone in the club speechless. His minimal talking when thanking people or declaring tracks such as ‘’Dragonaut’’ or even ‘’Sonic Titan’’ and leaving himself taken away by the tide of feelings, is really nominal.
110 minutes under the music (noise to some, orgasm to others) is a precious memory that everyone having the chance to witness it, must keep it forever as a lifetime experience. Not because Sleep is the best/slowest/druggiest band in the world (which is for some people) or the one you can easily listen to. But they do with much ease something that very few bands were born to do. They break the rules of safety in music. Non commercial, slow to the point of boredom for some, but one riff only can make the world seem heavier and one bass line by Cisneros can send you to hell and back. If you know many other bands that could do such thing, then this can be discussed thoroughly in another column. What matters is that we saw them live, they fucked our being literally and everyone inside the club considers them ten times larger than life. No sleep at all after this experience…
Aggelos “Redneck” Katsouras.