A mixed bill can be a hit or miss any day of the week. That being said, a bill as eclectic as the one featuring Baroness with Deafheaven and Zeal & Ardor is not only hard to come by, but even harder to pass up. This past Wednesday the 3rd of April, Savannah, GA stoner-rock powerhouse Baroness came rolling through the Corona Theatre for a night of sore necks, hoarse throats, and a whole lot of style bending.
Cracking open the evening in a fashion I can only describe as mind fucking were Zeal & Ardor out of Switzerland. When the band was first described to me many moons ago as “the combination of slave gospel and black metal,” I was certain this description was ghoulish overkill, stated to prove the point that this cat makes something truly unfathomable, stylistically. I absolutely did not expect the motherfucker to be serious. Here I was, months after this revelation, truly contemplating the idea of creativity itself while frontman Manuel Gagneux utterly dismantled reality as I’ve always known it.
Ghoulish overkill aside, this was a spectacular performance worthy of the coveted label “The Band Who Stole the Show.” Spectacular house sound was combined with musicianship in ways one can hardly put to words, and is entirely why people like myself do this dirty job we do. If you somehow have missed the buzz that Z&A have amassed in the last year, you’ve been sleeping harder than I have, and you can afford to no more.
Following up was yours truly eating years’ worth of a big heaping pile of shit talking. For years, I’ve admittedly not been a fan of, nor have I understood the buzz around, San Francisco black and post-metal ensemble Deafheaven. My first experience of them came from their tour in support of their second album, Sunbather. Years have gone by, and in that time this act has grown and molded itself into a lesson to be learned: you’re only allowed to shit on a band for as long as they’re allowed to stay the same, which admittedly Deafheaven have not. Deep melodies and grooves have occupied the place where artsy, pseudo-black-metal once lived. Where I once admittedly would find myself nodding off during a set, instead I found great interest, and a steaming pile of misplaced words I was forced to eat. Though the off-time and sporadic movements of vocalist George Clarke still utterly perplexed me, it must be said that the band itself have created a much more digestible and intriguing sound together that is worth witnessing.
Last and never least were the mighty Baroness. You might be thinking, “This dude has to be running out of ways to say this show was awesome.” You’d be right, I am. Luckily however, this is an act that will never disappoint you, so my job is real fucking easy. New album, old album, new band, old band, it doesn’t fucking matter, this act was born and bred in fire to fucking rip.
Sporting a set spanning across all the colours of the Baroness rainbow, and a warmth that can only be described as trademark to this act, the performance here in Montreal was a true testament to everything the band is – eclectic but streamlined. It’s a different setlist every night, but it’s always Baroness. It’s a different concoction of sounds and creation for every album, but it’s always Baroness. It’s a different set of pants you wear to each Baroness performance, but you can always guarantee with a double-guitar wielding John Baizley, that consistent closer “Take My Bones Away” will force you to burn ’em the next day.
Watch our interview with Sebastian Thomson of Baroness here.
Written by Jason Greenberg
Photography by Michael Kovacs
*edited by Kate Erickson