Savannah, Georgia, sludge metal legends Baroness returned to Spokane for the first time since 2019 to perform an intimate set at Lucky You Lounge on Wednesday night. For longtime fans of Baroness, this tour is particularly special because part of the setlist is determined by audience votes at each show.
While many noticed the high-ticket price ($60) for such a small venue, Baroness offered a unique experience, and everyone in attendance received a limited-edition tour print. Baroness emerged in the Southern sludge scene alongside bands like Mastodon and Kylesa in 2004. For those unfamiliar with the genre, it’s a blend of doom metal (think Black Sabbath) and hardcore punk.
It was pioneered by Washington’s own the Melvins, who also influenced the grunge movement in the 1980s. However, Baroness set itself apart because the band always used this genre as a canvas for artful experimentation and ornamentation with a Thin Lizzy-esque approach to twin guitar leads and focus on the visual aspects of music.
Helmed by renaissance man John Dyer Baizley, who also creates all the band’s album art, Baroness has been riffing for nearly 20 years. After a tragic accident in Germany in 2012, the band restructured. The rhythm section – Nick Johnson (bass/keys) and Sebastian Thomson (drums) – has been performing with the band since 2013.
In 2017, lead guitarist Pete Adams left the band and has since been replaced by powerhouse guitarist Gina Gleason, a onetime cast member of Cirque du Soleil. During the two-hour set, Baroness played tracks from every album since their 2007 debut full-length “Red,” which Revolver named album of the year.
The Spokane crowd selected a variety of early Baroness tracks to start the show, beginning with a blistering rendition of “A Horse Called Golgotha,” much to the audience’s delight at Lucky You Lounge. They also played several tracks off 2015’s “Purple,” including the Grammy-nominated “Shock Me.”
Throughout the night, the band performed with ferocity and precision, which kept the energy and spirits high in the intimate setting. A seasoned road dog, Baizley, now in his mid 40s, was lively and active as he commanded the crowd. Despite his commercial success, he remains grateful and graceful in his stage banter, regularly interacting with the crowd without ego or pretention.
The chemistry between Baizley and Gleason was electric during a brief acoustic interlude featuring reimagined tracks from 2012’s “Yellow and Green.” While stripped down from the harder, full-band original versions, these live alternate takes were thick with harmonies and showcased the underlying musicality.
Gleason’s performance on “Foolsong,” including a shredding acoustic guitar solo and backing vocals, was a standout moment of the night. The rhythm section, composed of Thomson and Jost, created a deep pocket for the crowd to groove. Jost, who occasionally played keys and bass simultaneously, was a lively force throughout the night.
Once or twice, he made jokes under his breath only those in the front row could hear (I won’t repeat them here). Thomson, a top-notch, mullet-wielding drummer, stayed locked in all night, even during “Take My Bones Away,” in which his high-hat malfunctioned. For fans of Baroness’s artful and progressive brand of sludge, the night was a memorable experience.
It was filled with sing-alongs, new renditions and stellar performances of longtime favorite tracks. During a moment of fan interaction, a member of the crowd shouted, “Please come back to Spokane.” Without hesitation, Baizley responded, “I think we’ll always come back to Spokane.”
That’s good news because Baroness has plenty of fans in Spokane whenever they head West marching toward the sea.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Spokane7 email newsletter
Get the day’s top entertainment headlines delivered to your inbox every morning.