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Live Review: Sleep at the Cocoanut Ballroom in Santa Cruz

12 April 2014 No Comment

03-22-2014 @ Cocoanut Ballroom
Santa Cruz, CA
Photos & Review: Josh Kutras & Jeff Longo

“Our ship explodes. Our work is done. We left our lives inside the Sun”

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, an idyllic waterfront amusement park located on the beautiful Pacific Ocean beach front of Santa Cruz CA. A sunny getaway from daily life filled with roller coasters, Fun House scare rides, & deep fried Twinkies.

Also, home to the legendary Cocoanut Grove Ballroom, a 107 year old ballroom located next to the Boardwalks massive arcade, in its heyday it featured performances from legends such as; Gene Krupa, Tommy Dorsey, Merv Griffin, Lawrence Welk & many, many more. On a breezy March evening legends of a different kind would descend upon the Cocoanut Grove, bringing in tow a throng of crusty, stinking heshers to fill the planks of the family friendly getaway, I am of course talking about San Jose CA Stoner/Doom legends SLEEP.

The happy go lucky beach & roller coaster atmosphere was a perfect contradiction to SLEEPs Sabbath meets the end of the world formula, the Cocoanut Groves ballroom/stage area felt like a scene out of Kubricks the Shining. The large oval ballroom primarily used for events and weddings these days was really cool with its muted colors and carpeted floors, yes carpet! Huge difference when standing for a multi hour concert on hardwood floors. A large disco ball hung in the center of the dimmed room. The stage was in an odd place located in the corner right when you walk in and a field mixing desk on the other side of the room although didn’t effect the sound at all. The best feature of all was the bar area was outside the ballroom looking into the venue, so all the drunks were caroled into one area, big plus!

Matt Pike was the first to take the stage wearing a sleeveless jean jacket! Very unusual as he always is shirtless. Shortly after bassist Al Cisneros and drummer Jason Roeder took the stage. Al was sporting a full, homeless man beard! I don’t think I have ever seen him with any facial hair and a quick google check confirms this. Thick marijuana smoke quickly filled the ballroom as the the thundering down tuned notes of Holy Mountain shook the room.

The first half included Sonic Titan followed by their most well known track Dragonaut, but it was the infamous doom trodden opening notes of Dopesmoker aka Jerusalem, that launched this show into another galaxy. The first appearance of the hour long masterpiece playing the first twelve or so minutes before leading into Aquarian, unreleased track Antarctica Thawed, and Holy Mountain’s ten minute behemoth From Beyond. Closing the night with Cultivator & Improved Morris, the little known track names for the final sections of Dopesmoker.

Opener Thrones (one man band Joe Preston sporting a Ben Franklin hairdo) took the stage about 15 mins late and launched into a muddy set of bass and drum doom that just wasn’t for me, the crowd seemed enthusiastic for it however. I know how many people regard him as a legend of sorts for his work with The Melvins, High on Fire, and Sunn o))) amongst others, but it just sounded like effects laden mud to me.

Thrones FaceBook-

SLEEP FaceBook & Merch-

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