John Baizley and co. rolled through Echo Park recently for “An Evening with Baroness.” Pitched as a special “by request” tour, the Your Baroness run has given fans in each city the opportunity to vote and select ten songs from the band’s rich catalogue to form the first half of the extended setlist each night.
John’s work as an illustrator has always given an interesting picture of how his brain perceives the world around him. The Appalachian roars of Baroness’ earlier days served as the defining framework of the “Savannah Sound” – something nearly inseparable from John’s contemporary art-nuveau cover art. Those lush depictions of flora and fauna drifting weightlessly across countless LP covers have seeped into the music more and more over the years as the songs themselves have become increasingly melodic, anthemic, and dare I say uplifting. On stage these days it’s clear Baizley and his bandmates take great pride and meaning in their music as they play every note with a balance of grace and heaviness. Their strength definitely lies in their range: skillful restraint as they perform sleeper tracks like “Cocainium” and “Little Things” versus palpable excitement as they bound through near explosive fan favorites “Tourniquet” and “The Gnashing”.
I’ve seen Baroness play everything from tiny club shows in Arizona well over a decade back to a main stage appearance at Psycho Las Vegas and a packed house at The Fonda. They’re definitely a band that has changed and grown substantially since the days of the Red Album but they’ve remained compelling on stage every single time. This was the first chance I’ve had to see them since Gold and Grey was released and Gina joined the band – a wonderful change of tone that’s made the live performances vastly more dynamic. There’s a special chemistry between her voice and John’s and it’s wonderful hearing them harmonize during acoustic takes of Cold Blooded Angels and I’d do Anything (the latter of which was already one hell of a tearjerker on the album.)
A slight downside to the setlist selection I can’t help but mention: none of the ticket holders in my group ever received the email invite to vote and the band actually mentioned only 80 people voted out of the 300~ capacity the Echo holds. Despite this the selected songs were still fantastic and (as one would expect) were mostly the well known singles and hits. The cool flipside to frontloading the setlist was the band’s freedom to dig out a few of the lesser played, surprising, personal tracks once the classics were out of the way (including a somewhat impromptu encore of Tower Falls instead of the planned Isaak – something I never thought they’d play live again.)
A perfect example of the importance and impact of live music: seeing Baroness at the Echo after a tumultuous few years sets the bar high for the rest of 2022. An intimate tour like this is the perfect high point to transition from as the band closes out their color cycle of records and heads into an exciting new era – one I’m very excited to watch as it flourishes. Hopefully we’ll get a career spanning live album from this tour to hold us over until then.
Words and Photos by: Dillon Vaughn
Take My Bones Away
Rays on Pinion
March to the Sea
A Horse Called Golgotha
Chlorine & Wine
Cold-Blooded Angels (Acoustic)
I’d Do Anything (Acoustic)
If I Have to Wake Up (Would You Stop the Rain?) / Fugue
The Sweetest Curse
Swollen and Halo