Sleep was a band I was familiar with yet naive to all the same, however after the experience I was thrust into this past Sunday, they made damn sure I wouldn't forget who they were. I've seen a wide array of performances at Codfish Hollow, from classic folk and Americana to post-hardcore, fuzzed-out grunge, and even comedy, however nothing quite on the level of Sleep had graced that reinforced wooden stage perched so perfectly amid the Iowa Countryside. This show was more than half sold out 30 min after tickets went on sale, and were easily sold out completely before that first day came to a close. I've seen several sold out shows within these walls, including one only a week prior, but nothing that sold out quick so quickly, so I knew there'd be a great mass of people moving along the sun-bathed hill and art-filled spaces which surround this newly shingled barn, and we were surely greeted by one of the most blatantly sold out events I've shot upon these grounds. The showed opened with Big Business, a duo that also makes up the rhythm section of The Melvins. I had never seen Big Business, but am a major fan of drummer Coady Willis' other band The Murder City Devils, so I was excited to see what BB brought to the table. I was certainly not disappointed, as this duo destroyed the stage, with Willis' performance being a real highlight of the night, but if you're looking for a sound more akin to The Murder City Devils this is not where you're going to find it.
Sleep then took the stage, surrounded by an absolute wall of amps. Dinosaur Jr. has performed at Codfish on several occasions, leaving many in attendance with brief bouts of tinnitus, but when arriving we had been warned Sleep's sound check went above and beyond what J. Mascis and crew provided less than a year prior. With camera in hand and ear plugs in, which I had neglected to use at the aforementioned Dinosaur Jr. show, I took my place, legs pressed right up to the stage. We were allowed 10 minutes to capture Sleep and the shutter was firing rapidly as the band sludged through the first half of their first song. The trip from stage to outside is never the most welcome event, however it usually occurs between songs when the crowd is slightly less engaged. However the nature of Sleep's definitive doom metal sound results in rather long songs and so I was forced to fight the crowd during the rush of the opening song these throes of individuals had been waiting weeks to see. After a few quick additional shots from the surprisingly vacant sound booth I was free to take in the rest of the show with my camera out of sight, and it was nice to take that break and simply take in the show after spending the last 2 weeks of May shooting nearly 10 shows in 4 cities.
Codfish never fails to disappoint whether I'm seeing a bucket-list band or I'm witnessing a group after only hearing their name for the first time a few minutes prior. And I heard a lot of discussion from people at their first Codfish event, hoping to return, and hoping similar acts come through the doors. And while such acts haven't been commonplace at the barn in the past, after this response, I can't imagine this will be the last time such an act finds itself up on that stage.