Any concert stop in town by Sleep is notable on its own. Add the fact that their latest was a Pulse benefit (July 26, the Beacham), though, and you have something for the history books. Other touring and local acts have graciously donated their hard-earned proceeds to the cause. But making the legendary California stoner-metal band dope times two is that they join the saintly few by traveling all the way here to do a non-tour, ad hoc special event. Also historical is that this is probably the first time anyone has ever called Sleep "saintly."
Besides a two-set performance, they also organized and held an auction of exclusive items like instruments, bikes and wakeboards signed by royalty of the rock and extreme sports worlds – people like Mick Fleetwood, Tony Hawk, Lance Mountain, Mat Hoffman and local wake pioneer Scott Byerly. Because of the big-ticket items on the block, I didn't expect many to be able to drop that kind of scratch, but people were shelling out hundreds of dollars per item. The magnitude of this city's largesse continues to floor me. These are my people here. In fact, the benevolence was so widespread that I learned the company through which I have, of all things, my life insurance was matching the show's proceeds dollar for dollar. And to put the exclamation point on the night, the members of Sleep signed one of their cymbals before they left the stage and auctioned it off on the spot, adding a $650 cherry on top of the funds.
Now, I'll report on benefit shows but I don't really review them. As a general maxim, I don't critique because it's just not appropriate. These are rallies for causes and not performances for the sake of art. Sleep could've gotten up on stage and completely botched their set and this campaign of goodwill would still be angelic. However, I will absolutely note if anything truly exceptional happened. And to Sleep's credit as musicians, they completely blew the house down in a slo-mo landslide of thrilling tonnage like masters of the universe. Testament to the beautiful destruction that three intent stoners and a wall of amp stacks can wreak, the sheer atmospheres they were laying down sat like an elephant on my dome, crushing me so hard that the only thing keeping me breathing was the pure exhilaration.
So to hell with critical distance. The aggregate impact of the band, the cause and the spirit in this full house was just too tremendous to downplay. This night ruled, these guys ruled, this community ruled, and all was on the mend in this cruel fucking world. The unforgivable crimes notwithstanding, a world where the heaviest of metalheads rally this vigorously and in this number to aid the victims at a gay club is a world I want to live in. This is love. Thank you, Sleep, for being a beacon. For everything. And thanks, Orlando, for answering the call with open hearts and pockets.
Kool Keith was originally scheduled to take the stage here earlier this month but some flight issues forced an 11th-hour cancellation. We probably shouldn't have expected anything involving perhaps the oddest ball from the golden age of hip-hop to go normally anyway. Well, he made it here for the make-up show (July 27, Will's Pub).
Ever oblique and proudly strange, the Bronx MC is an original gangster of the left-field rap that's practically de rigueur in indie circles. The fact that this out-there, shapeshifting weirdo has operated for decades with no apparent regard for constancy or convention makes him as much miracle as hero.
But here's his deft little trick: Despite his outsider ways and sometimes inscrutable thoughts, the man's flow – crammed with complex meter and watertight execution – is technical enough to pass old-school muster. He even showed off some legit freestyle chops.
A nice local touch was having Orlando's DJ Cub – one of the city's most tasteful turntable jocks – run the decks and make the cuts for him in a rapid-fire, quick-shuffle, pulse-keeping set.