Baroness The Social Orlando

LIVE REVIEW: Baroness and Pallbearer | The Social, Orlando, FL | Tuesday, September 6, 2016

by • October 1, 2016

Pallbearer had engaged the evening’s festivities with vigor. For a band that’s labeled in the doom metal and stoner rock genres, their music is full of melody. These melodies shone through with piercing power in their live presentation. Perhaps, it was the band’s use of specific amps, pedals, and other gear allowing them to create a uniquely doomy yet, concise tone. This could be the case, but ultimately, the gear simply translates the concepts into sound waves spawned by the musical artist. (Bob Ross’s paint brushes didn’t paint his happy little pictures, he did.)  This band from Little Rock, Arkansas knew exactly what they were doing, they were throwing down.  It sounded like ISIS, but with more movement and dynamic.  

 Having been around since 2008, the band has had time to nurture their sound. In all fairness, they’ve been crushing since day 1. Considering the band made their album, Foundations of Burden, with Billy Anderson (of Melvins, Sleep, Mr. Bungle, and Neurosis fame), it’s no surprise that their Wikipedia page lists the following accolades (high praise even for Wiki) :

They first released a three song demo in 2010, releasing their first full length Sorrow and Extinction in 2012. Sorrow and Extinction was awarded Best New Music status by Pitchfork and was cited amongst the best albums of the year by Spin and NPR. Their 2014 album, Foundations of Burden, was also awarded Best New Music status by Pitchfork.”

While I really do admire almost everything Pallbearer does musically, I would have to say what stuck out to me the most in the live setting was the vocals, which were refreshingly pristine and brisk.  Heavier, growling-oriented vocals are common in this genre. The band has certainly set itself apart from its contemporaries instrumentally. Their use of vocals are nearly unparalleled amongst bands who dare to actually sing engaging melodies and three part harmonies over doom metal.

After a thankfully expedient rollover, Baroness took stage. This band is so epic and pivotal in their field that none of my words here are going to do them justice. I’ll try anyway.
They’ve been a band for 13 years now and have seen more than their fair share of trials and struggles.  Simultaneously, they’ve also experienced levels of success which few bands ever obtain. They have played with ISIS, Meshuggah, Faith No More, Jane’s Addiction, and Clutch. Additionally, they’ve toured supporting Deftones, Mastodon, Lamb of God, and Metallica. No big deal. The Savannah, Georgia band have earned their stripes amidst their peers musically, while experiencing struggles with mortality that are as real as it gets.  A snippet from their Wikipedia page on a most poignant and altering incident:

On August 15, 2012, nine passengers were injured (two seriously) when the German-registered coach in which Baroness were traveling fell from a viaduct near Bath, England. As a result of the crash, frontman John Baizley suffered a broken left arm and broken left leg. Allen Blickle and Matt Maggioni each suffered fractured vertebrae. Pete Adams was treated and released from the hospital on August 16, 2012.

During the subsequent months of recovery, Baroness began scheduling tour dates once more. On March 25, 2013, through a statement posted on Baroness’ official website, it was announced that both Allen Blickle (drums) and Matt Maggioni (bass guitar) had left Baroness. On April 1, 2013, the first leg of Baroness’ 2013 US Headlining Tour was announced, featuring the debut of bass guitarist Nick Jost, and drummer Sebastian Thomson of Trans Am.”

Pretty heavy. I can’t imagine what it must be like to survive an event like that as a band. Obviously, it wasn’t bearable for everyone involved. Fortunately, for all of us fans, the band survived. Not only survived, but came back in the fullest of forms. Their most recent album, Purple, is as rocking and refined as could be. The song “Morningstar” kicks butt beginning to end, while “Fugue” may best be described as ‘an acid lounge disco ballad.’  “Chlorine and Wine” is an epic journey of Pink Floyd-level arrangement, polish, and songwriting.

The live show this night presented a band leaving it all on the stage with reckless abandon. Every song, chord, and note had intent. They were all drenched with sweat by the second song. Mature bands know how to control every facet of the sound/tone/sonic experience they present. Baroness’ live sound has layers and layers of parts to pay attention to. You kind of just have to pick a part or two to focus on and try to take it in. Like many bands in the genre, the tone of the guitars and bass are sludgy when they need to be, but are still discernible so the chord progressions don’t get lost. The drumming is driving the thing with relentless urgency. In a point similar to Pallbearer, the vocals are not conventional for music this heavy. John Baizley has an incredible voice and addicting singable hooks. The band has developed group backing vocals which really take this element to another level. One of the cool things about their performances of “Eula”, “Take My Bones Away”, and “March to the Sea” from Yellow was when everyone in The Social was singing along to these songs!  (These are great “drinking beer with your mates” songs.) You can place yourself getting ready to cross a sea and invade a country about a thousand years ago when you hear these tunes in a room full of people.

The official video for “Chlorine and Wine” gives a strong glimpse into this feeling:

The crowd kept cheering for more songs, and Baroness played a generous, lengthy set. Fans drank deeply from the well of songs spanning much of their catalog throughout the night.

After the show, I was fortunate enough to catch up with John for a couple minutes. He was amazingly energetic, friendly, and seemed to be full of life. (Like a person who knows what they’re supposed to be doing with their life and is simply doing it.) I got this awesome pic with him:

Baroness The Social Orlando

My night could not have ended any better and I am thankful that they’ve weathered their storms and are going stronger than ever!

Baroness and Pallbearer Live Review by Joshua Jauz

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