Earthless owned Baroness last night from my view. I seen Peart, seen Danny Carey, seen Hoglan, seen Jean-Paul Gaster....Mario Rubalcaba is on that elite level of rock drumming. If I wasn't closing my eyes getting lost in the sound I was watching him awestruck. The rhythm section in that band is so good. I stood on the side of the bassist to get the best vantage point of the drums, and it was easy to get lost in the vibe of those 2 and totally forget that the guitar player on the other side of the stage was melting faces. Next time I see them I'll make it a point to focus on the guitars, but I was totally entranced by the bass/drums. They jammed nonstop for the entirety of their set, at full intensity for at least 30 minutes of it. Recognized some of the crucial riffs from "Godspeed" and "Sonic Prayer" but I don't think they jammed off any themes from the first record. Really looking forward to hearing their next studio recording.
Baroness comparatively are a totally different beast, but some aspects of what makes Earthless great highlight what I think are shortcomings in Baroness. Number one is the vocals, totally unnecessary. They even tried to I guess harmonize those yawning groans between Pete and John at times, and it was not vibin. Just lose the vocals entirely, or stick to the generic growly style ala the first 2 EP's. Another area where they lacked was the drumming. Much tighter when I saw em in the summer (actually the whole band was tighter on that show) so I'll cut him slack, cuz dude really is extremely talented as is the whole band obviously, but there were several times where it was noticeable to me that he messed up. The fills were too busy without being effective and sometimes threw him off when trying to come back into the rhythm. Maybe some restraint would help. Pete and John were in full on guitar hero mode which was cool and got the crowd into it but sometimes looked kinda ridiculous and would impact the playing at crucial moments. The rendition of "Steel That Sleeps the Eye" they did reminded me of Staind. Staind is not what I want to be thinking about at a Baroness show.
On the positive end, Summer was the guy last night. Stood to his side of the stage to absorb the monstrous bass tones that drowned out the weakass guitar tone. His playing and stage presence are my favorite of the rest of the guys. On the guitar tone front, it was dry and clean like the Blue Record, which is fine for the album but live I want some heft and volume, which Earthless had over them as well. Actually the sound during "Grad" and "Tower Falls" (
) was much better than the rest of the set, dunno why. The "Machine Gun" jam they did over the summer was a little different than the one last night, which sounded more rehearsed and less jammy. "Tower Falls" illustrated why Baroness are special. They don't put it together right all the time, but when they do it's tough to beat.