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Live Review: Baroness w/ Red Fang @ Rams Head Live — 5/15/24

Baroness, the four-piece that formed in Savannah, Georgia, but now reside in Philadelphia and New York, plays a type of metal that’s heavy. But even those who swear they aren’t fans of the genre come away with an appreciation — if not love — for the music of Baroness. Whether it’s the harmonies (both of the vocal and guitar variety) of John Baizley and Gina Gleason; the complex rhythms of drummer Sebastian Thomson and bassist Nick Jost; or the emotional power that such loud, distortion-laden songs emit, Baroness is a band that’s hard to ignore, as seen recently at Rams Head Live.

Baroness’s trajectory hasn’t been a straight line. And maybe that informs a lot of the emotional energy the band displays in both the six full-length LPs they’ve produced as well as their frenetic live shows. Formed in 2003, the band went through a live-changing accident while on tour in the UK and some line-up changes before their fourth album, Purple. In that period, Baizley moved from Georgia to Philly, where he met Gleason, who had been playing guitar as part of the Cirque du Soleil cast.

A lot of Baroness’s strongest material has come since that time, and they played some of it at Rams Head Live on May 15. “Last Word” from their most recent record, Stone, is as driving and powerful as earlier songs like “The Birthing” or personal fave “A Horse Called Golgotha.”

I had seen Baroness before. They started their last tour in Baltimore at the Soundstage, and they came back to Charm City to an enthusiastic crowd at Rams Head Live. This time they brought Portland, Oregon sludge metal kings Red Fang.

Although I hadn’t seen Red Fang before that night, I had known their music. Like a sledge hammer they hit that stage and I was blown away. Hearing them on record is one thing but their energy live was incredible. From the initial distorted drone of “Wires” to thrum of “Prehistoric Dog” it was non-stop electric joy.

Portland’s Red Fang

At Rams Head Live, Baroness kicked things off with the heavy “Last Word” from their most recent record. I remember when they played Baltimore near the tail end of 2023 they started off with the slower “Embers,” the opener for Stone. And although I love that song, the power of “Last Word” with the refrain “I remember every last word / I remember it all” with those harmonies between Baizley and Gleason was the perfect start to an incredibly moving set.

Witnessing this band, it has to be remarked what a powerhouse is drummer Sebastian Thomson. Thomson — whose CV includes the Bethesda band, Trans Am — started “Beneath the Rose,” another heavy song from Stone, with am impressive drum solo.

Watch the official music video for “Beneath the Rose” by Baroness on YouTube:

On this stop in Baltimore, their entire set felt flawless. It’s hard enough to execute the type of precision guitar work John, Gina, and Nick pull off stationary, but the way the three moved around on-stage was dizzying.

John Baizley of Baroness

In the first half of the show, Baroness had already performed many of the songs I usually have on regular rotation. “A Horse Called Golgotha” with its harmonizing guitar lines to “March to the Sea” with that driving beat then to probably their most well-known song, “Shock Me,” it was like they had a window into what this crowd wanted to hear.

So many of Baroness’s songs touch on themes of water and the sea. “Take me to the ocean / lead me through the waves” on “Anodyne” or “You tied yourself up and jumped into the sea” from “March to the Sea” have connection that’s apparent in the poetry of these lines. But the most direct reference has to be “The Dirge” with the opening lines of “When my ship is sailing / when my race is run.” There’s a melancholy that runs through those words.

But don’t be fooled, over top of those words are a strength that’s almost defiant. I couldn’t help but feel that pull in “Shock Me” and especially in the songs Baroness encored with “Take My Bones Away” and the fan-favorite “Isak.”

Baroness continue their USA tour, including another local stop at The Fillmore Silver Spring on June 23, and it’s a show not to miss!

The setlist included:

Last Word
Beneath the Rose
A Horse Called Golgotha
March to the Sea
Green Theme
Chlorine & Wine
Shock Me
The Gnashing
The Sweetest Curse

Take My Bones Away

Here are more photos of Baroness performing at Rams Head Live in Baltimore on May 15, 2024. All photos copyright and courtesy of David LaMason.

And here are more photos of Red Fang performing at Rams Head Live.