On September 10th, Baroness performed a live stream show with Culture Lab LIC at the Plaxall Gallery in Long Island City, New York, a non-profit space dedicated to “supporting the development of art, theater, music and community services.” The stream featured all 17 tracks on their 2019 album Gold & Grey, which received praise from the likes of Npr and NME, sitting atop the Billboard’s Hard Rock Albums Sales and Independent Albums’ Charts when it first debuted.
The Grammy-Award-nominated band creates progressive, experimental tracks on Gold & Grey that are individualistic, yet flow together seamlessly. The contrast in electric spurts of blazing guitars and raging vocals, to acoustic moments shared with light piano playing and sweet harmonization, created a complex journey over the course of the show.
Cloaked in the dark red light of the venue, the band came onto the scene with their first track, the powerful and heavy “Front Toward Enemy.” With an overhead camera angle, viewers got to see each member jamming in unison. Headbanging and attacking the guitar chords with ferocity, frontman John Baizley kept a high energy.
For a cool down, the next track, “I’m Already Gone” carried the essential Baroness heaviness in the form of pensive slow jam ballads. Each layer of instrumentals meshed together in a smooth united fashion. Sebastian Thomson hammered the drums and Nick Jost carryied the bass line as the guitars held true to a slower tempo. Following suit, with the same melancholy messages of loss and rebuilding, “Seasons” featured impressive guitar riffs and healing lyrics: “We fall/ We rise/ We bend/ We break/ We burn but we survive.”
“I’d Do Anything” and “Emmett – Radiating Light” touched on the more gentle sides of Baroness, conjuring up paradoxically light, yet somehow dark, tones. As Baizley belted out “I’d do anything to feel alive again,” he sat down at the piano gleaning beautiful melodies with guitarist and backup vocalist, Gina Gleason, perched on a stool next to the piano bench. Her ethereal vocals ranging from a whisper to a howl coincided perfectly with Baizley’s rich, soulful sound duet style. With drums and bass absent, tiny hints of glockenspiel added an extra sparkling dream-like element to “Emmett – Radiating Light.”
The band returned in full force for “Cold-Blooded Angels.” The transitions from hushed vocals and plucky guitar playing to full fledged screaming and chord shredding made for an incredible build up of energy. The incorporation of synths and quick changes in pace made this track another unique one to remember. On the same wave of upbeat energy, “Broken Halo,” “Can Oscura” and “Borderlines” raised listeners’ heart rates. During “Can Oscura,” fingers were flying with intensity on guitar and bass strings, and “Borderlines” hailed a metallic edge wielding distortion, shouting and breakdowns.
From start to finish, the performance exhibited an honest evolution of raw emotion through the course of its tracks. The colors gold and grey themselves draw contrasting associations, and the atmosphere of the show juxtapositioned between a golden lighter hue to a grittier, more solemn introspection.
For a look behind the scenes at the creation of Gold & Grey, Baroness released a short documentary style series of videos on their Youtube channel called “Making Gold & Grey.”
Front Toward Enemy
I’m Already Gone
Throw Me an Anchor
I’d Do Anything
Blankets of Ash
Emmett – Radiating Light
Assault on East Falls
File Photo Credit: Owen Ela