BARONESS @ BLUEBIRD THEATER | 8/21/13 After the year Baroness had, it was obvious the quartet was happy to out playing again, and the crowd at the Bluebird last night was likewise amped to see the band. This was displayed none more powerfully and vividly than during the performance of "Swollen and Halo," which came halfway through the set. Running the gauntlet of the band's palette of tone, rhythms and dynamics, it felt like the perfect link between the band's older music and the more experimental feel of its newest material.
See also: Baroness battles back from catastrophe
Kicking off a set that drew mostly from Yellow & Green, its latest release, the outfit got things going with an introductory passage that sounded like meditative space rock, like Daniel Lanois, only darker and more on the drone side of things. But once the song's introduction ended, Baroness got to the heavy yet fluid rock groove for which it is most well-known.
Maybe it was the contrast of the new material with the older songs, but some things came to light that are probably obvious but didn't seem as prevalent before -- the guitar melodies, for instance. Peter Adams and John Baizley harmonized with each other like you'd hear from Thin Lizzy or Iron Maiden. It fit in well with the powerful and driving rhythm section, bassist Nick Jost and new drummer Sebastian Thomson. And it's not just that these guys were tight, but they'd also leave enough room to go a little off the tracks, albeit in a controlled way that fits in with the song. It sounded relaxed while also being intense and bombastic.
At times, Baroness also kind of seemed like a power pop band, one powered by heavy guitars and a propulsive low end. Baizley and Adams sang in atonal harmonies that might be out of place in a conventional pop song context, but they made it work here, whether they were actually singing or simply yelling the words in a musical way. There was an expansiveness to the energy of the band that was infectious. By the end of the show, it didn't seem like ninety minutes had passed. The music carried you along and transported you to another place, as only the best shows can.
Baroness Bluebird Theater - 8/21/13 Denver, CO
01. Ogeechee Hymnal 02. Take My Bones Away 03. March to the Sea 04. A Horse Called Golgotha 05. Foolsong 06. Little Things 07. Green Theme 08. Swollen and Halo 09. Board Up the House 10. Sea Lungs 11. Cocainium 12. The Line Between 13. Eula 14. The Gnashing
Encore 15. The Sweetest Curse 16. Jake Leg 17. Isak
Personal Bias: I enjoy how Baroness fuses many parts into a coherent whole of heavy rock with good lyrics and imaginative soundscaping with great rocking riffs. Random Detail: As always, excellent T-shirt designs courtesy John Baizley, including this cool sea-green rooster design, a teardrop raven design, the flying goat and another with what looked like a two-headed bird. All excellent. By the Way: Before the end of the set, Peter Adams asked the audience to look after his or her neighbor -- the mark of a rocker and a gentleman.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.