Baroness: One Sunday in East Atlanta.
“All of your fears are well founded and true
All my hands are callous and cruel
All of my arrows that riddle you through
Are bullets that fire back into you
All of the rivers are boiling with thirst
All my hands are covered with earth
All of my children that gnash with their teeth
Are paperback novels and dogs scratching fleas.”
-“The Gnashing” Baroness
All you have to say to this concert hopper are the words ‘Baroness’ and ‘The Earl’ and I would not miss this rare opportunity. Baroness is currently on a mini-tour (which sold out at nearly every stop) in promotion of their new album, Purple, released on December 18, 2015 on their recently founded label Abraxan Hymns. Unfortunately, many people were not able to procure tickets to this event due to the limited capacity of the Earl in the East Atlanta Village (EAV). This made this event much more intimate and on a level that cannot be expressed through photos on social media. Baroness did hide a ‘Purple ticket’ in each city on this tour, posting clues as to the location on their Instagram account (@yourbaroness). The Purple ticket (hidden outside the Flat Iron restaurant within walking distance from the Earl in the EAV) which contained two (2) tickets to the show plus a chocolate bar… Willy Wonka would be proud. Although, sometimes it pays to get your ticket when they initially go on sale, you never know when you go to get that ticket and it is sold out… like this show.
This night was sort of an emotional homecoming for the Savannah based band (formed in 2003) as they ended this mini-tour with two record store appearances and performances in Philadelphia and Brooklyn. They have a lull from touring until February 2016 when they embark on an extensive European tour until April 2nd in Germany. I feel this is a good segue to properly begin the narrative of Baroness, knowing that they will travel to 30 dates across Europe one must understand the harsh road that took them to this point. This requires a small flashback to August 15, 2012 and an ordinary road near Bath, England that changed the lives of nine people forever. John Dyer Baizley (lead vocals and guitar) described what happened to Spin reporter, Chris Martins:
“The guard rail and the 20 or 30 trees we ploughed through snapped like matchsticks as we went fully airborne and fell down more than 30 feet off a viaduct to the ground below… There was nothing anyone on the bus could have done during our descent to avoid the crash, and no one, the local residents, the police or any of us can believe we survived the impact”
The driver of their tour bus, Norman Markus, would willingly operate the motor vehicle knowing the brakes were faulty plus he did not observe to “sufficient daily and weekly rest periods” while driving the bus for the band. Markus would never face criminal charges as he would be allowed to recover back in his native home of Germany, where he stayed to avoid prosecution from the British authorities. Two members, bassist Matt Maggioni and drummer Allen Blickle (both would suffer fractured vertebrae), would leave the band after the accident due to the “indelible marks, external and internal, physical and mental” consequences of this tragic accident. The road to recovery would be a difficult one emotionally and physically with extensive rehabilitation for all of the people involved in this horrific accident. After sometime Baroness would announce the addition of bassist Nick Jost and drummer Sebastian Thomson of the band, Trans Am. After a long, daunting road to heal their bones and scars from this horrendous wreck, Baroness would regroup and tour in support of their third full length double album entitled, Yellow & Green (released on July 17, 2012).
Baroness would tour extensively on the Flesh Out North American tour in 2013 during the spring/summer (their Sunday set at Bonnaroo was awesome!) and then head to do some dates over in Europe. The band would take a break from touring to record what would be the Purple album. Fast forward a few months to this moment in time… the moment right before Baroness takes the stage at the Earl. The scene is thick with a maximum capacity of fans crammed inside this tiny venue waiting for the first note to ring through the stacked amps on stage. It was 8:30 PM on a Sunday night in the East Atlanta Village when the moment of truth had come as the boys took the stage amidst a thunderous roar from the crowd.
Baroness started their 19 song set list (17 songs with a 2 song encore) with “The Sweetest Curse”, a track from their second major release entitled Blue Record. The next few hours would be a pleasant mixture of some older tracks and five new songs from the Purple album. John seemed a bit anxious to know how we felt after he played some of these newer tracks (some were even played for the first time). We all responded with very positive feedback as the new tracks were performed perfectly and pristine. The emotionality that the band displayed in their performance was highlighted by their overall delight with the crowd’s active participation. A few of the new tracks, “Morningstar”, “If I Have to Wake Up (Would You Stop the Rain)”, and “Kerosene” really impressed me the most.
Although watching them perform the song, “Eula”, this was a sort of religious experience as they performed this song with so much passion that I now imagine the song in a totally different manner. Another song worthy of mention was the performance of “A Horse Called Golgotha.” Not only was this a surprise to see live but I do not recall ever seeing them perform it at any of the previous shows. They would play until 10:28 pm, ending with “Isak” (one of my personal favorites off the Red Album) and finally, “Take My Bones Away” before bidding the crowd farewell for the night.
Baroness may be one of the luckiest bands ever to walk away from such a horrific accident and live to tell the tale. However, the band did rise from the proverbial ashes like a phoenix only to become a stronger, more powerful band bonded by a past that will forever connect Pete Adams (lead guitar) and John Dyer Baizely. If you have not had the opportunity to witness the spectacle that is Baroness performing live, then do yourself a favor and attend a show(s) on their current or future tour(s). Also, do not forget to pick up a copy of their latest album, Purple, on LP, CD, or digital media (available on iTunes). Also, from all of us at Concerthopper, we hope you had a wonderful holiday! And we want to wish you and your family a happy and safe New Year. Thank you for a great 2015 and we are excited to see what 2016 has in store for us all! Follow my concert hopping on Instagram. Hope to see you at a show or a festival in the new year!