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Oceans Of Slumber

Date: 6/12/18
Venue: Club Red, Mesa, AZ
Report By: Jack Mangan


This is what live music is all about.

Some bands can drive a mosh pit into a frenzy, some can get everyone dancing, others can get the crowd swaying with the cellphone lights held high (or lighters, if you can remember that far back), but on this hot June night at Club Red in Mesa AZ, Oceans of Slumber took the stage to open for Insomnium and held the room transfixed. The crowd was thin and spread out at the start of their set, but as the songs progressed, the chatter lessened, and the numbers swelled and pushed closer to the stage. To be sure, there was headbanging; there were raised fists and a few singing along word-for-word, but it was mainly a roomful of people in thrall.

The tour bus AC unit had died somewhere in the sweltering desert en route from Santa Ana, CA, but Oceans of Slumber still played with a powerful emotional intensity beyond the ken of most bands. Dobber Beverly, the boss and center of the group, delivers an incredible amount of might and sound from behind his minimalist drumset. Seriously; drummers from 1950s Doo Wop bands had more pieces in their kits - - but few drummers in Rock n’ Roll history have had skill on this level. It’s not just the drag-racer speeds, but it’s also the perfectly written parts and fills, played with precision and smarts. His drums are not content to merely keep time and tempo; they lead and accentuate the music and melody. This guy could sit in with just about any band in the world and immediately improve their sound.

If Dobber is the brain and center of the band, then Singer/frontwoman Cammie Gilbert is the heart and soul. She combines superstar-caliber talent with incredible, impassioned vocal depth. Her ability shines through on their studio recordings, but is possibly even more amazing live. I’ve seen lots of shows of numerous genres, and can recall some wonderfully moving performances across the decades, but this was one of the most intensely heartfelt and personal displays I’ve ever witnessed. These songs are emotional sledgehammers as it is, but the beauty and grace she brings to them will give you chills. She doesn’t banter at all, doesn’t address the audience until their final song, “No Colour, No Light,” is completed, simply stating the band name and encouraging fans to meet them at the merch table. Even in this simple, quick message, her voice breaks with the feelings she’s just lived out and delivered through the microphone.

The rest of the band’s talented roster cannot be overlooked. Mat Aleman is solid on the keys, which are vital for a number of their songs, and are utilized for the synth-based interludes. Bassist Keegan Kelly and guitarists Anthony Contreras and Sean Gary all appear to have extra strings on their instruments, but they each play with virtuosic, enviable skill. Sean provides the majority of the harsh counter-vocals, along with clean “ooohs” during the closer, but each of the three take a growl turn at some point.

There’s a cliched, oft-used phrase about artists doing passionate shows and leaving everything on the stage - - I’m going to use it here, because it applies. The songs are masterpieces of intelligence and emotional truth, and the band summons everything they have to give them their due live. The vibe in Club Red was palpable. You want a live music experience that’s genuine and moving, that actually seems to fucking mean something to the artists onstage, then Oceans of Slumber will surpass your wildest expectations. Their show is not to be missed.

(NOTE: Much respect to Insomnium too. They headlined the evening, looking like Gods straight outta Asgard, and electrifying their adoring fanbase with a killer set of Finnish Death Metal, highlighting their new album, “Winter’s Gate.”)

Oceans of Slumber setlist:

The Decay of Disregard
Fleeting Vigilance
At Dawn
A Path to Broken Stars
No Color, No Light

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