Photos & Text by Colton Bills
This past week on Friday, March 4th, 2016, I celebrated an early 19th birthday by attending the mighty Neurosis’ diamond anniversary; 30 years of unflinching sound, fury, strength and vision. To top off this birthday present to myself, I was also able to, for the first time, see Vhöl and Sleep. My girlfriend can attest to the fact that I haven’t been able to stop talking about this show since – to say it left its mark on me would be a gross understatement.
I knew Neurosis didn’t play many shows after I got into them. I waited for what seemed like an eternity for either band to come anywhere within a realistic driving range. Then both Sleep and Neurosis announced a show together and I immediately bought a ticket. I knew it was going to be amazing, especially with Vhöl added to the lineup.
Let’s start at the beginning – about two and a half or three years ago, I became mildly obsessed with Sleep, and, having always been told their live experiences were incredible, I looked forward to the day I could see them in physical form. I had heard this over and over again while reading Youtube comments on videos from Hellfest and Southwest Terror Fest (shout out to Frank Huang/Pit Full of Shit), but I didn’t get the complete picture until I actually saw them live. Sleep lived up to those expectations and more – it was not just a show, but an experience. I can only describe it as being enlightening. It was like a warm sonic blanket. Al, the bass wizard, putting a spell on the crowd and slowly moving to the music, while Matt Pike, the guitar gangster, shredded and beat the crowd with sheer volume and energy. The grooves washed over me and put me in a hypnotic state – at one point, the music became so deafening that I was scared my left eardrum was going to implode. I was swaying back and forth without a thought other than what was going on in front of me. These guys are very good at what they do, when they are able to come together and be the Sonic Titan (see what I did there?) that is Sleep. If you ever get the opportunity to see them, don’t miss it.
Three amazing bands in one night, two of them being the reason I now can’t get enough heavy music. Vhöl’s hectic, speed metal opened the show in proper fashion. A great band, unique and a perfect addition to the lineup. Each performer was on top of their game, not missing a single beat. Mike’s vocals soared, the bass grooved, the guitar shredded and the drums propelled the music through space. I don’t even know how to describe Vhöl, but their music is damn good, I feel lucky I got to see them because they don’t play many shows.
I got into Neurosis at a very dark time in my life when I felt very alone – one of those seemingly never-ending periods of time (I’m sure most readers can identify at least one period of this sadness in their own lives). The first song I ever heard by them was their 2012 piece of beauty, My Heart For Deliverance, a great song. After that I dove into their music and embraced it fully. In 30 years of making music, Neurosis has transformed from angry hardcore punk rockers to alternative metal Gods. This show was a beautiful showcase and testament to their legacy and their music. Opening with Lost from their 1994 album Enemy of the Sun, these guys made it clear they do not fuck around and, consequently, that they are not to be fucked with.