Sleepy Sun’s rays of psychedelia shine with confidence 

Is it ever a surprise when a new psychedelic rock band emerges from San Francisco? Mind-altering music might be Northern California’s second-largest export, right after the cash crops budding in Humboldt County. The six fresh-faced twentysomethings who play music as Sleepy Sun — from San Francisco by way of Santa Cruz — are well-acquainted with Northern California’s rich musical history and somewhat criminal agricultural output. Judging by their debut LP, Embrace, they’ve been eating pot brownies and digesting Neil Young guitar solos since grade school.

Calling from a remote cabin in the mountains outside of Tahoe, bassist Jack Allen joked about being pigeonholed as a San Francisco act. “Actually, we’ve been talking about just changing our name to Haight Street Acid Beard,” he says.

As his phone popped and hissed with static, occasionally cutting out entirely, Allen described a San Francisco scene that isn’t as tightly knit as some expect. “Not too many of the bands know each other or play together that much,” he said. They’ll be touring later in the year with Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound, another San Francisco band, and Allen says, “I can’t really remember the last time something like that happened. There isn’t much coherence.”

Despite that, Sleepy Sun have a loyal following on the West Coast that owes no small debt to the live act they’ve been cultivating for the past few years. The band is fronted by a pair of charismatic vocalists, Brett Constantino and Rachel Williams, who shake kluwak nut shells and wail into reverb-drenched microphones with a confidence that belies their age. At the core of the band, though, is a pair of guitarists, Evan Reiss and Matt Holliman, who can channel the hallucinatory visions of a Jodorowsky film into heavy riffs that owe equal debts to Creation Records and Black Sabbath.

The combined result is a band that looks almost too young to play the music they’re creating, like children who found their parents’ stash and haven’t been the same since. Their first show in Atlanta will be at the Earl on Saturday, where they’ll be joined by the West Coast-styled but Atlanta-based Fringe Factory DJs Vikki V and Suzy Q.


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