Aug 8, 2013

Baroness, Royal Thunder play A&R Bar

Words by Stef Best:

Progressive sludge metallers Baroness played A&R Music Bar in Columbus, OH, on Monday, on the first stop of a tour supporting their third release, Yellow & Green. A&R Music Bar, in the Arena District of Columbus, hasn’t been booking national acts for very long, but has quickly created a great rock & roll atmosphere. While the bar is expansive (including a permanent Mikey’s Late Night Slice location), the main level stage is positively tiny. The small stage allows for a close connection between performing artists and audiences. The decision by management to push the barriers to the edge of the stage increased the intimacy of the event. A diverse audience was in attendance, featuring everyone from the most hardened of tattooed metalheads (sometimes actually tattooed on their heads) to young fresh-faced proto-hipsters. Prog rock band Royal Thunder opened, truly living up to their name with a dark and stormy set. Mlny Parsonz’s bass-playing thundered ominously, while her voice alternatively soothed and roared over the bluesy, retro guitar riffs provided by guitarist Josh Weaver. Drummer Evan Diprima smacked away at a kit that was so thickly glittered that I was surprised I didn’t leave with sparkly specks in my clothes. The band did little on stage other than rock, only identifying themselves right before leaving the stage. Watch out for Royal Thunder; they’re here to rule rock & roll. This was not the first visit to Columbus for Baroness, but it is their first tour since a terrifying bus accident in England last August. Despite sustaining extensive injuries, lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist John Baizley brought just as much spirit and skill to the stage as bandmates Peter Adams (lead guitar), Sebastian Thomson (drums), and Nick Jost (bass). Baizley happily bantered from the stage with long-time fans recognizable from previous Columbus shows. Several times throughout the show, Baizley and Adams stepped to the edge of the stage rocking right into fans’ faces. The entire band delivered a high-energy show for well on two hours, including a three-song encore and profuse, sincere thanks to fans for their support and enthusiasm. Baroness has been a point of debate among fans of heavy metal in recent years: are they rock or metal? Technically this debate has already been resolved by the fine minds at Metal Archives which only lists metal bands and is, as far as I’m concerned, the ultimate arbiter of what IS metal.

Groovy and catchy enough for rock, heavy enough to headline the recent surge in sludge metal, Baroness may just be the perfect crossover band for a new generation of rock fans.

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