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  • Team Sleep - The Meridian, Houston

    Mon, 10 Dec 2007 10:21:44

    Team Sleep - The Meridian, Houston - No Sleep 'til Houston

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    Space travel has never been so much fun. With a combination of creepy 70's film footage and entrancing electronic rock, Team Sleep are the musical equivalent of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Team Sleep's show at the Meridian in Houston was edgy and transcendental: for the crowd and the band. Everyone in the packed club remained completely engaged by the five musicians on the stage. A mixture of music and visuals, Team Sleep created a complete aural experience, and Houston got to go along for the ride.

    Though known as the side project of Deftones frontman Chino Moreno, Team Sleep has always proven to be its own engaging entity. Each member stood out in his own right. Todd Wilkinson's guitar was a melodic rapture on opener "Table of Contents." He jammed spacey harmonies that seamlessly exploded into a wall of fuzz. He played with a distinct style, giving the music a haze of warm distortion.

    Multi-instrumentalist Rick Verrett shined on "Our Ride to the Rectory" and other cuts, holding down the low end while steering the synths. On new track "Fen Fen," he did it all, while still rocking out of course. "Zach vs. Crook" allowed drummer Zach Hill and DJ Crook to square off in an instrumental battle of epic proportions. Zach exhibited a fury reminiscent of Keith Moon and showmanship a la Tommy Lee, as he bashed away at his kit with fire and finesse. Meanwhile, DJ Crook kept the infectious beats coming, adding intricate sonic textures. "Staring @ the Queen" was trip hop excess in its purest form, marrying Crook's light speed scratching with Hill's percussive fireworks.

    However, Moreno remained captain of this ship. During "Ever (Foreign Flag)," his voice sounded simply pristine as he evoked raw emotion that could make Morrissey wince. On "Ataraxia" and "Your Skull is Red," the choruses hit with a tortured sensuality few vocalists channel. "Mercedes" pushed Moreno center stage as trip hop's most contemplative and edgiest MC. "Natalie Portman" was a dreamy journey, complete with a cocoon of vaporous distortion. New songs "Forment" and "March" held up alongside the crowd favorites, exuding the same captivating essence. However, "Blvd Knights" elevated the band to an arena-ready level, with huge guitars and Moreno’s unmistakable lovelorn wail. Set-closer "King Diamond" was a collective of everything amazing about the set. Chino danced and spit some edgy rhymes, straight-up becoming an electro-punk hip hop god in the process.

    Of the three opening bands, Monster In the Machine fared the best. Their Bowie meets Beatles melodies kept the crowd enticed, and songs like "Under Your Shadow" and "Savior" bear the marks of memorable hits. Sonny and Strata both fell into numerous emo cliches and didn't stand out whatsoever.

    In the end though, Team Sleep is a collective of hypnotic, strange visuals, seductive poignant vocals and warm guitars. In other words, it was the best trip to outer space without leaving the ground.

    —Rick Florino

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