Story and photos by Karen BondowskiSpringing out of the smoke-filled skies of New Jersey, Sleep Station came to Milwaukee to let the souls of many forgotten soldiers free. Sleep Station's penchant for concept albums are amazing. They've tackled tough and obscure subjects - all with a unique and fresh voice. Bowing down to conformity and hipness is something that is alien to this band. Questions that have no easy answers are what they seek. It would have been nice to see them headline their own show as their set fell short of 30 minutes. But, you take what you get in life and Sleep Station helps you realize that.
Playing most songs from their latest release, After the War, singer/guitarist Dave Debiak relives the soul searching and a soldier's everyday coping with loss and war. Singing with a singular passion, his voice aptly portrays a soldier's view back in the 1940s. They let their poetry sing on "Caroline, London 1940,"
"I will hide this way
while bombs drop everyday
just close my eyes and wait to die
They can take our lives
but my soul is yours and mine
and I love you Caroline"
Singing with a raw honesty that's steeped in love and pain, Debiak becomes an anonymous soldier that is forgotten, but for the faded memories of loved ones back home. While this song has a hefty upbeat tempo and accented by some spirited trumpet, the music itself came off as a happy song, but when you listen to Dave sing with such painful passion it makes you really think twice about what's going on in your life. What's more important? What do you value? What means the most to you? What does life mean to you?
These guys are ready to tackle anything that comes their way. Whether it may be a guitar string breaking during a song, (which happened during "Caroline") or even Brad striking the wrong note during a short, but spirited guitar solo during "Elana." They would just smile at each other and look to the crowd and acknowledge that it didn't bother them. They were up there having fun. Isn't that the most important thing? Musicians sometimes forget why they are on the stage. But Sleep Station didn't question themselves once or even pretend to be interested in anything but their music . They knew. They had a carefree, put- you-at-ease attitude that bled through the audience. Music for music's sake. The way it was meant to be heard. Honest, fun, and living every moment as each note is struck.
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