Okay, okay - here is the much-belated gig report. Hopefully someone will care to read it, since I think I have some pretty cool stuff to share...read on.
First off, the night started in a very cool and unexected way when my brother and I got to the venue, which turns out to be a bar & grill in the front and a bowling alley on the back, with a billiard hall / live concert venue upstairs (sound confusing? I kid you not! It's cool as hell is what it is!). Anyway, the venue turned out to be super cool, and as we went into the bowling area in the back, we saw all of the members of Baroness enjoying a nice bit of R&R on the lanes. I made eye contact with John Baizley, and gave him the ol' upward-head-nod and said, "what's up?", and he smiled and returned the gesture and the greeting. Really solid, down to Earth guy, I thought. Pretty cool. By the way, Baroness sucks at bowling (fun fact).
I thought about snapping a photo of them in action so I could post it on the ol' board here, but thought better of it as I didn't want to come off like a groupie geek (I was planning on talking to them later to see if they minded me videotaping their set).
So anyway, after watching these fine musicians enjoy their bowling match for a bit, we went upstairs to catch the first opening act, which was U.S. Christmas. I had listened to some of their stuff on MySpace, and liked it. I don't have a definitive set list for them, but I know they started things off with a few of my favorites from their MySpace page, including "The Scalphunters" (VERY kickass tune
), and "Death by Horses" (I think). The first thing one notices when these folks take the stage is that there is a whole shitload of 'em up there...eight, to be exact. They have two drummers on kits, a third guy who does extra percussion stuff like bongos and tambourine, three...count 'em, three...guitarists, one bass player and a female who plays violin - and not only are her parts important to the overall composition, but in many cases they are the lead instrument in the song. Now this is not to say that these folks aren't heavy, or that they are some kind of GY!BE clone - in fact, they reminded me more of Minsk than anything post-rock oriented. They are heavy - they are entertaining - and they are fucking LOUD! Definitely go check these folks out on this tour if you can...they are badass.
Next came Earthless - a psychedelic jam trio from San Diego. I obtained copies of their two most recent albums a few weeks before the show to prepare, and I noticed that the two albums contained a total of five songs, one of which was less than five minutes, and the other four of which were more than twenty. I didn't know exactly what they would play in a live setting, given time constraints and such (two songs, tops, maybe?), but if I'd have noodled on it for hours more I would have never seen coming what actually happened. They played one song. Just one. However, it was roughly thirty-five fucking minutes long
(as it turns out, it was a medley of stuff from both of the albums I had). That's right, kids - these crazy bastards played an entire set without ever taking a single break, and let me tell you that they rarely slowed the proceedings down to a Black Sabbath pace. It was mostly hammer down the whole way. I was stunned, and so was everyone else in the venue. These guys brought the heat, bigtime, and blew the roof off the place. They were fucking fantastic. All I can tell you is that these dudes are a seriously impressive and fun act to watch live, and they will make your jaw drop. Excellent warm-up act for the mighty Baroness.
Speaking of which, I did not get a chance to check with the band about taping the show, so I figured I'd go ahead and take my chances and tape them, and hopefully talk to them about it afterward to make sure it was OK. So anyway, the set list was as described above. I agree with a couple of other posters - Rays is still sorely missing, and no Coeur / no Tower Falls was also a bit disappointing, but let me just say this: somehow, I still don't feel we got let down at all. Baroness was really in top form that night. There were all kinds of "little extras" that made the proceedings all the more cool, such as the Jimi intro to Isak, the tweaked-out version of STSTE they played, and especially the extended, remixed version of Grad which ended the set. It was like eight minutes long, and it was way different and way more cool than the Red Album version. All of the heavy-hitting songs hit just as heavy as they should, and to tell you the truth, there were very few melodic moments, but when they happened they were beautiful as well. All I know is, Baroness is one of the best, most talented and most entertaining bands in heavy music today, and if you miss this tour, you are really missing out on something special.
Speaking of missing out, if you do miss this tour but wish you hadn't, there might be a ray of hope for you yet. I talked to John at length after their set, and he mentioned to me that Baroness is looking to come back around next Spring and hit a bunch of the cities they missed on this leg (this is after they tour Europe and wherever else they are going to be over the winter). So, there is that little tidbit for you.
I also got a photo with John and me holding up a copy of a limited edition, hand-signed and numbered print of his artwork from the cover of Pig Destroyer's "Phantom Limb" album. They were selling this print in shades of yellow and shades of green for thirty bucks, and another print that John did of some different artwork that was smaller, for twenty - plus shirts, CD's and other gear as described by others above.
All I can say is, John is another one of the coolest cats I've met from some of the best of the best metal bands out there - he's down to Earth and doesn't act like a celebrity or whatever at all. In fact, he heartily thanked the crowd for their support at the end of their set, and I could tell that he totally meant what he was saying. Massive humility while exhibiting mad skills - I fucking love that shit. Great group of guys, great musicians, great music (from quite possibly the 2009 album of the year, IMHO). Not bad for only twelve fucking dollars.