Setting the Stage: The scene at Rough Trade in Brooklyn was that of an old-school album release party. The most devout fans and followers of Baroness gathered at the record store on Friday, everyone holding their fresh copy of Gold & Grey and awaiting the band’s performance and signing.
Rough Trade is a timepiece itself, preserving record store shopping experience in an age of digital media and streaming. The night served to make an occasion of the record release, echoing a past where people would line up outside to score a copy of a new album, when a trip to the record store wasn’t just frivolous consumerism but a necessary step for procuring new music.
After performing a series of acoustic sets at independent record stores in the days leading up to the release, Baroness convened as a full band for Friday’s short, intimate set within Rough Trade’s venue space. There was palpable reverence in the audience as fans conversed over their favorite moments and first impressions of Gold & Grey, waiting for the band to emerge.
Taking the Stage: When frontman John Dyer Baizley appeared from the behind the stage, the ever-charismatic singer and guitarist gave a fist pump, joining the crowd in their jubilation. For as excited as the fans were to see their beloved Baroness, Baizley reciprocated that energy and admiration throughout the performance.
The band opened with Blue Record highlight “A Horse Called Golgoltha”, with its surging buildups and spiraling guitar leads, the crowd shouting the lyrics in tandem with Baizley. For a relatively early track in their discography, the song hints at the exploratory pseudo-metal that has come to define their latest work and the compositional experimentation prevalent on Gold & Grey.
The new album made up half of the six-song set, with the lead single “Borderlines” receiving a decadent live treatment. Honed during the band’s recent tour with Deafheaven, the track verges on straight prog, including an instrumental coda that sees the band jamming a la Pink Floyd ’72. Bassist Nick Jost and drummer Sebastian Thomson exchanged wide grins during this part, which was the most rhythmically dynamic and “jammy” moment in the set.
Gold & Grey staple “Tourniquet” received its full-band live debut after the video for the song dropped earlier in the day. Opening with a soft, harmonized intro between Baizley and guitarist Gina Gleason — a tide over from the acoustic sets the duo performed together over the past week — the song is one of the most dynamic Baroness has ever written, quiet passages set against loud climaxes and the album’s most memorable vocal refrain (“An artificial heart!”), screamed passionately by Gleason and Baizley.
Another album single, “Seasons”, closed the set with a convincing reminder of why everyone was gathered so early for such a short set, holding their LPs like prized possessions. Despite the brevity of the performance, there’s no wrong circumstance for hearing these songs live. It was as if the band were performing exclusively for its biggest fans, and the night wasn’t over.
Down the road, a 15-minute walk away in the neighboring Greenpoint, Baroness and Revolver magazine hosted a pop-up gallery called “Full Spectrum: The Art of Gold & Grey” featuring original artwork from Baizley and Marald van Haasteren.
For the first time ever, all of the Baroness album covers were on display next to one another in the gallery space, from Red Album onward. Eventually, Baizley and crew would arrive, as the band and fans mingled, a consummating moment to a celebratory evening for Baroness.
Photo Gallery – Baroness Perform at Rough Trade and Attend Revolver Gallery Show in Brooklyn (click to enlarge and scroll through):
All photos by Jon Hadusek
“A Horse Called Golgotha”
“March to the Sea”