It’s been over two years since Baroness was in Atlanta. Last Sunday, Dec. 13, they played to a sold out crowd at the Earl in anticipation of the release of their fourth album, Purple. Savannah’s Earthling had van trouble and was unable to make the show as the opening act, so Baroness played for two solid hours. The set list encompassed songs off all four of their full length releases.
The last time Baroness was in town, both bassist Nick Jost and drummer Sebastian Thomson were new to the band. Now, with several tours and a new album under their belt, Baroness has solidified their lineup and found new focus on the music. Few bands weave punk aggression, prog rock complexity, delicate acoustic picking, and triumphant sing along choruses together so effortlessly while simultaneously avoiding hyper masculine metal pretense, theatrics, and cliches. The combination may have seemed perfected with the 2012 release of Yellow and Green, but if the five new songs played Sunday are any indication, they have honed these skills even further on Purple.
Jost and Thomson provide a sound foundation and add a measure of complexity to the rhythm section while avoiding tedious overplaying. Pete Adams and John Baizley continue to make a convincing case for their right to stand alongside the great guitar and vocal duos of rock history. Baizley commands the stage and the attention of everyone in the room, whether exploding into the roar of “The Sweetest Curse” and “Take My Bones Away” or the quieter vocals in “Cocanium” and “Eula.” Adams nails every riff, every note, keeping the energy of the crowd as intense as his own as they rip through “March to the Sea,” A Horse Called Golgotha,” “The Line Between,” and “The Gnashing.”
Glancing around at any audience, you are likely to see one of the most annoying staples of 21st century concerts: patrons staring down at their phones throughout the show. There was very little of that Sunday night. Easily one of the most enthusiastic crowds at the Earl in years, most in attendance sang along to every song and stayed until the very end of the show, stomping so aggressively that the floor began to shake in anticipation of an encore.
In a culture where cynicism and disillusionment are the norm and homogenized drivel pass as an artistic endeavor and dominate the media, it’s reassuring to see a band not only so adept at their craft, but sincere in their relations with their fans both on and off the stage. Metal musicians are known for stern brows reflecting the seriousness of the music. Baroness is all smiles across the stage. They are truly happy to be playing for you and surprisingly humble about their importance as one of the most original and groundbreaking bands in rock.
The current tour wraps in the New York City on Dec. 20 and picks back up in February in Europe. Purple hit the shelves and your favorite streaming sites on Dec. 18.
Although the Earl is a great little music venue, there are few stage lights and most of the one they do have are harsh red lights that are murderous on photographs. For color photos of Baroness, follow the link below to my 2013 review of Baroness at the Center Stage in Atlanta: