"November 19, 2009"

Baroness - November 19, 2009

Baroness (with Earthless)
First Unitarian Church, Philadelphia, PA, USA

It's been a good couple of months for Baroness. In August they rolled out their second full-length, "Blue Record," to piles of acclaim and success. It cracked Billboard at #117, and hit #1 on the Heatseekers chart. And now that the end time (of the year) is nigh, expect to see the Savannah, GA-ish foursome to invade all kinds of year-end lists, including the coveted #1 spot on Decibel Magazine's Top 40 of 2009. Now the band has embarked on a cross-country headlining tour to spread the good word, which is exactly what they did in a stuffy music hall on a miserable, rainy Philadelphia night.

It was up to Earthless to whet the crowd's appetite, and they happily obliged by busting out a deliriously satisfying, non-stop 40 minute jam. And in this case, non-stop meant non-fricking-stop. The trio, particularly guitarist Isaiah Mitchell, put on an absolute clinic that must have taxed the hell out of all three members, proving that technical expertise and free-flowing instinct aren't mutually exclusive. The uptempo, infectiously groovy ride had at least one person in the room (hi!) reconsidering their anti-jam band stance.

But this was Baroness' night, after all, and they proved it by shoving a fat slice of awesome down everyone's maw. For a set that included pretty much all of "Blue Record," the band also managed to scoop out a large portion of their back catalogue, reaching all the way back to the "First" EP. It didn't really matter what albums they drew from, because it was all gravy. Not even slight problems with the sound that had the guitars a bit too low could spoil what they had going on; just like on record, no one element dominates the music, it's about the synergy between every member working to create something great. There's something special about the way these four guys play off of each other, from the interplay of guitarists John Dyer Baizley (he of the jaw-droppingly gorgeous artwork that graces countless album covers, Baroness and otherwise) and Pete Adams, to Summer Welch's nimble bass work, and Allen Blickle's fluid yet rock solid drumming. The intense, but never frenzied, performance was soaked up by the crowd, who were all too willing to join in the communal vibe of the experience. Now, this being a Baroness show, there wasn't any brutish physicality, but instead there was rampant use of both The Slow Headbang and The Mental Mosh.

This was a night dominated by a band clearly enjoying sharing their music with a crowd. For Baizley's determined scowl and stern countenance, right next to him was Welch, shirtless, smiling to the heavens, and clearly having a blast. No matter what their outward facade though, every member was feeling it, because you just don't get performances this tight from people who are miserable (or talentless, which these guys clearly aren't). It was a good night in what's been a long string of good nights for Baroness; consequently, it was a great night for all the fans who turned out to see them play.