On Wednesday the 18th of November 2009 I got off my ass and headed up to the Rock And Roll Hotel in the Atlas Theatre district of North East Washington, DC to go see Baroness play. I’d been to the Rock & Roll Hotel before, but not to see a band play. The venue wasn’t great, not very wide but deep, which must have been a bitch for the people in the back trying to see. The stage lighting was pretty poor and they don’t allow flash photography and since I can’t afford a $3k camera my pics aren’t the greatest. They did allow you to shoot video, but again since the lighting was so bad it all came out pretty dark (though the audio isn’t too bad) which you can see for yourself at the bottom of this post. It was $4.50 for a Miller Lite bottle which I guess is pretty standard for DC. The bar was crammed on one of the side walls to the back of the room, and the merch stand was crammed into the other side in front of the mixing console. Apparently they don’t allow moshing of any kind because a couple songs in when some guy started pushing people a bit the security came right up and put an end to that. The shift actually helped me get a little closer to the stage. Even though I’m usually holding a camera up front, I really don’t mind moshing at concerts (hate crowd surfers tho). If you don’t want people moshing at your venue, maybe you shouldn’t book metal bands at let them play somewhere more fun instead. Anyways, on to the band’s performance…
This was the first show of the tour supporting Baroness’ new album, Blue Record. I’m not certain but I’m betting this was the first time those songs were being played live. On the stage they had a cool looking fabric backdrop of the cover art from the new album. Their show started off a bit disorganized, they had some intro song playing, then it stopped, then after several minutes of silence they walked onto the stage and started playing. I noticed the lead guitarist had changed from a St. Vitus shirt to a Dark Castle shirt in this time, for some reason. I really like the energy of a lot of their songs on their new album. I’ve listened to their first one, Red Album, a few times but it has never gripped me as much as these newer songs do. The one thing I don’t like about the new album is all the intros and instrumentals, there’s a lot of them. Unfortunately for me, they play them live too. I guess that’s cool for people who enjoy them, but it’s really just a pause in the energy to me and honestly I don’t find theirs particularly interesting. Their show was pretty loud for a club this size, which is never a bad thing to me. The kick drum was really pounding, though the microphones didn’t seem to work well for the live show. They seemed to be very tight uni-directional microphones, which means if you’re not directly in front of them, you might as well be in the next room. This made the vocals just disappear completely from the mix a few times when the band members were particularly excited on stage. This was especially a problem for the lead guitarist and bass player, who were helping with backing vocals from time to time, since their mics were not as loud in the mix to begin with. The show was pretty good for the most part, they played most of the songs I really wanted to hear. The stage was pretty cramped but they still did a few theatrics to make things interesting. I thought it was kinda cool when the drummer poured water on his cymbals before a big entrance in a song, spraying the water everywhere in a cool visual effect. At the end of the show they did the typical encore thing where they walked off stage and waited a couple minutes to come back and play their final song of the night. I don’t understand why every headliner band seems to feel the need to do this, regardless of genre. It’s not an encore if it’s scripted! Anyways, they did play for almost an hour and a half, which might be a bit long for them. I mean I do enjoy their music, but since they’ve only got 2 full length albums out, they started running out of material to play that’s of the same caliber. This made the show start to drag on a bit for me. I really think these guys are a great up and coming band and I think with some better exposure they would be playing much larger venues. On the other hand, watching concerts at the 9:30 Club has become quite a drag, so I hope they don’t get too big too quick! It was a really fun show and for $12 it was well worth attending.
One more thing, if you’re planning on buying the Blue Record on vinyl at the concert, try to do it early. They ran out of copies to sell at this show. They said they were getting more the next day, but who knows how long those will last. I spoke to the bass player, Summer Welch, after the show, and the band seemed to think the vinyl was available on their record label’s website, Relapse.com. I had checked earlier that day and knew it wasn’t, so that means this vinyl is going to sell more than they’re expecting since people can’t buy it anywhere. They were selling all vinyl for $20, all t-shirts for $15 and CDs for $12, cash only of course.