Baroness “Summer Tour”
Four years ago in July, Baroness released their double LP. Yellow and Green. That LP was almost single-handedly my soundtrack for the summer. I pretty much listened to it non-stop, and to this day, my favorite Baroness song is “March to the Sea.” At that time, I was a fifteen year old who just finished a pretty shitty sophomore year of high school who wanted nothing more than to see these guys. A month after, I thought my chances were cut off completely. On August 15th, four years back, Baroness was involved in a terrible bus accident that severely injured the band and kept their future on hold for quite a while. Despite making a full recovery, it would take me one day short of four years from that date to see them, and I almost didn’t go. It wasn’t that I hated the band or anything, it was just that I pretty much lost all my interest in seeing them, especially with so many other concerts happening during this summer. However, a friend really wanted to go, especially because doom rockers Pallbearer were on the bill, so I figured, why not? I drag my friends to so many shows, the least I can do is go to a show for a friend. Now that I went, I can say that I felt so stupid for even thinking about not going.
The night started at 8:00 sharp with Pallbearer. I was in the same venue, Webster Hall’s Grand Ballroom, the last time I saw these guys, but I was also rather far away and with a very killjoy group. I was up against the barricade this time with a much more positive group of people. The band opened their set with “Worlds Apart,”the first song on their 2014 LP. They honestly could not have chosen a better opener. The song is very slow and builds through it’s 10 minutes, and with each moment, the crowd was feeling their slow, depressing vibe more and more. The band were surely feeling it as well, especially bassist Joseph Rowland who stood center-stage for the duration of their set just jamming out each song. Halfway through their set, Pallbearer told the crowd that they just finished recording their third full length, and proceeded to play a new, heavy banger that just filled the entire room. They would then play probably my favorite song off Foundations of Burden, “The Ghost I Used to Be. One of the friends I was with proceeded to cry her eyes out. It’s hard to blame her; the song was surely the most emotional song performed that night and was ten times more potent with the raw energy coming from the amplifier. The group closed with their debut LP’s opener, “Foreigner,” which truly summarized Pallbearer’s set. Emotional and heavy to the absolute fucking maximum.
So now this raises the question: could Baroness even top their opener? Pallbearer was really fucking solid, so it was hard to imagine how Baroness could follow up.
I did not expect Baroness to have such an energetic performance at all. From what I’ve seen, many sludge metal acts are tight performers but don’t really move around or anything, with the exception of The Ocean and Rosetta, who are two of my favorite live acts because of their heavy sound and incredible stage presence. Baroness, while maybe not as energetic as those two bands, still offers a ton to their performance. John Baizley is one of the most active frontmen I have seen playing an instrument, constantly trying to get the audience involved with the performance as much as possible. The band feeds off of the energy of the audience and vice versa. The band played Purple in it’s entirety alongside a few tracks off of Yellow and Green, including my beloved “March to the Sea,” Blue Record’s “The Gnashing” and Red Album’s “Isak.” Altogether, their set clocked in at an impressive 105 minutes. The band never slowed down or slacked off at all, pummeling through their set and completely acing the fuck out of it, with their lighting set to match each LP’s cover. The only complaint I truly have is that I didn’t get to hear their band-defining song, Blue Record’s “A Horse Called Golgotha,” live, but considering how amazing the rest of their set truly was, I guess I really shouldn’t complain.
This show reignited my love for Baroness, and I am so thankful for that. After coming home, I pretty much did nothing but listen to their records again. My fifteen year old self can finally rest peacefully knowing that I eventually caught Baroness live, and mark my words, I definitely will catch them whenever I can. Same goes for Pallbearer. August 14th, 2016 was truly a night for slow-burning heavy music that I will not forget anytime soon.
- Alex Brown
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