Review by Jordan Salfity, photos by Jay Valena
June 3rd 2016, Fonda Theatre, Hollywood CA: Savannah, Georgia sludge metal group Baroness released their fourth full-length studio album ‘Purple’ in late 2015, and embarked on a North American headline tour in May 2016 with support act Youth Code. They brought the tour to an end in Los Angeles with a gig at the Fonda Theatre, and our writer Jordan Salfity, along with our photographer Jay Valena, were in attendance to capture the show for us via their respective words and images. Check it out below.
I first saw Baroness live right before the release of ‘Yellow & Green’ in 2012, while on their tour with Meshuggah and Decapitated. On that tour, the mostly death metal crowd did not really get into Baroness and their mostly soft rock set. The second time I saw Baroness, I drove down to San Diego to a sold-out show at The Casbah, about a year after their horrific bus crash that left most of the members of the band with severe injuries. They were welcomed back to the stage as heroes, in one of the roughest, sweatiest, and most fun shows that I have ever been to. When Baroness announced that they would be coming back to Los Angeles for the first time in four years, I knew I had to be there, and many close friends of mine felt the exact same way. There was a beautiful intensity and excitement in the air as many in the crowd would be seeing them for the very first time. It was also due to the fact that their recent release ‘Purple’ had been so well acclaimed and lyrically struck the right chord with a lot of people, due to being influenced by frontman John Baizley’s time in the hospital and subsequent recovery time.
The line formed early and at 8 PM, the place filled quickly. There was only one opening band that night, and at 9 PM, the crowd was introduced to Youth Code. Youth Code is a Los Angeles based two-piece industrial band, consisting of Ryan George on keyboards and Sara Taylor on vocals. Ryan would supply backup vocals here and there, but it was clear that Sara’s growls and screams were the driving force of this band. Her tone was deep and raspy. It seemed obvious that half of the crowd were not familiar with them, and did not expect an industrial band to open up for Baroness. The crowd remained exceptionally respectful nonetheless. I enjoyed their set, though I do feel like the lack of a full band creates an awkward lack of energy that could be saved by more people playing instruments, such as drums and guitar, rather than just a couple of keyboards.
More Youth Code photos:
The lights went dark at exactly 10:15 PM, and Baroness took the stage to a full room of loud and excited fans. They went straight into ‘Kerosene’ from the Purple album, setting the mood of what the night was going to be like. The set consisted of 14 songs, followed by an encore, and contained every song from Purple, not including the 14-second ‘Crossroads of Infinity’. Aside from that, the set had a couple of fan favorites from the other albums, including ‘March to The Sea’, ‘Board Up the House’, and ‘Take My Bones Away’ from Yellow & Green, ‘Isak’ from The Red Album, and ‘The Gnashing’ from the Blue Record.
The energy from the crowd and band continued throughout the entire set, with most of the crowd singing along to every word. You could tell that the band was feeding off the energy, as they truly looked like four guys having the time of their lives playing the music that they love. I really enjoyed how they connected songs with little jam sessions in between, and the whole set flowed together nicely. The highlight of the night for me was ‘If I Have to Wake Up (Would You Stop the Rain)’ from Purple, which is an incredibly beautiful and emotional ballad. You could see how much that song meant to many people in the crowd. The 16-song set flew by quickly, and I could not believe it was already time to go home. Baroness are definitely at the top of their game right now, and all their hard work over the years is paying off as they continue to be one of the most respected bands in heavy metal.
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02. March to the Sea
04. Shock Me
05. Board Up the House
06. Green Theme
07. The Iron Bell
08. If I Have to Wake Up (Would You Stop the Rain?)
10. Little Things
11. Chlorine & Wine
12. Try to Disappear
13. Desperation Burns
14. The Gnashing
16. Take My Bones Away
More Baroness photos: