Words by Matt Stubbs from the Jerry Jonestown Podcast Show
On Sunday night I had the honor to catch Baroness in concert with tour mates Deafheaven and Zeal & Ardor. This show was at Canton Hall, in Deep Ellum. It was an evening of cross-genre live music, with the exception of Baroness. These three musical performances were very different. But the one thing they all had in common is creativity.
Zeal & Ardor started the rock show off, with a peculiar avant-garde sound. I’m going to try my best to describe this band, but it is a group you need to just go check out when you have a chance. This six-piece band from Sweden has also spent time in New York City. They utilize three different vocal parts during most of their set, with Manuel Gagneux leading the chants and singing. Pay attention! Here comes the kicker to this band. In a way, their sound blends black metal and old soulful almost gospel sounds. At times they sound like they are in a chain gang with Cool Hand Luke working in the blazing sun in rural Florida. And other times during the set they sound like they are in some cold dark castle in Norway, drinking blood, and dancing under the moon with corpse paint on. Big marching drum parts and murky dark guitar parts filled the venue while they played. They remind me of Hozier off his meds. Later in the night, John Baizley informed the audience that the Zeal & Ardor bassist got sick and had to go home before the show. Wow, they sounded great! Now imagine if the bass player was there to help melt your face too!
Baroness was the second band to play on this bill at Canton Hall. Let me start off by saying, I’m embarrassed that this was my first time to catch Baroness play live. I swear every time they have come to town, especially when they came to the Doublewide, I had some crazy life stuff that had to be dealt with. But I finally saw this monster rock band, and they did me right. I love guitars, and I really love dueling guitars. Which is the main draw for me to Baroness. John Baizley fills his crunchy metal style of playing with melodic riffs throughout Baroness music. And he does it while putting his all in his vocals as well. And Gina Gleason’s guitar work fits Baroness like a glove. To see those two have a blast with their Fender amps and guitars made it very hard to keep my metal face on. I wanted to be up jumping around and high-fiving them. Mr. Baizley’s pedalboard is a dashboard to guitar heaven. He even had his Philly Fuzz pedal for audience members to take home and try to recreate some of his tone. John and Gina could put on a clinic for boutique guitar pedals and charge people for the class. They have both mastered the craft and injected it into Baroness music. They hit most of their albums during the set and jammed the Green Theme, one of my favorite guitar power anthems. They ended their performance with Isak, which is the first song I ever heard by them. The rhythm section of Baroness is driven by Sebastian Thomson and Nick Jost. You may recognize Sebastian’s drumming from his band Trans Am. He is a Disco King on the drumset but still thumps some hard rock and metal when the music calls for it. Nick plays the bass like all my favorite bass players do. At the tip of their fingers with ease and precision. The band was having fun, and it spread through the whole hall. You couldn’t help but smile while they played their red hot n blue set! Oh..and green and yellow. And purple too! I can’t wait to hear their new release, which sounds like it might be dropping this year.
And finally, I witnessed the greatness of Deafheaven. Sunbather was my introduction to the mixed genre of black gaze. I highly recommend you go buy this Deathwish record label release. And, I highly recommend you listen to the whole Deafheaven catalog. Their studio work is solid, and the Deafheaven live show held up to it. The vocalist, George Clarke, demanded the crowd's attention from the moment he stepped on stage. Their show is another fun act to watch. When Deafheaven is shredding they are full on headbangers. When they are “gazing” they are full on dancers. Which, honestly, I guess it’s all dancing in some form. Their music sounded like a horror movie that would somehow drag you into an episode of Little House on the Prairie. They go from crunchy hot guitars to airy ambient soundscapes, and then to fanning black metal in one song. San Francisco must dose the water with mighty band juice. With the likes of Faith No More, Sly and the Family Stone, Metallica, and now Deafheaven. Maybe I should go there someday???? Meh, I’m good.
Zeal & Ardor, Baroness, and Deafheaven kept the audience on their toes Sunday night at Canton Music Hall. Dallas was lucky to get a chance to see that lineup. The black metal kids, the prog heshers, and chain-gang metal music fans all rocked together this evening. Do yourself a favor and go listen to all of these bands.