PHILADELPHIA, PA—It was a rather chilly night in Philly as fans waited as long as four hours before the show outside of Union Transfer to see the long-awaited return of Baroness. What was once a farmers market in the late 1800s on Spring Garden Street, the building has seen all sorts of history. With its reincarnation in 2011 to become the Union Transfer music venue, it was host to a different kind of history. This was the first show the alt-metal act played as a full band since their bus accident last August. When doors opened, people rushed the merch booth, the bar, the bathrooms, and the stage. As the staff encountered soundboard issues, the show started about an hour later than expected.
First up was the Brooklyn-based Tombs. I have never heard Tombs before this show, but in the handful of songs that they played, I quickly became a fan. The double-bass pedal was just what the crowd needed to regain their energy from the long wait. The band walked out and played without speaking, and breezed through their material that consisted of crushing riffs and melodic hooks. Bodies were flying around as the crowd started a giant mosh pit. Others in the front looked on and headbanged throughout the group’s performance. As their set finished, they packed up their gear and headed out, while Pallbearer set theirs up.
After a half hour or so, the crowd cheered during lead singer/guitarist Brett Campbell’s soaring soundcheck. Pallbearer soon broke out into “Devoid Of Redemption.” With the sludgy, gritty guitars, the young band took the crowd by surprise. They were loud, heavy, and energetic. They followed with another track from their debut album, Sorrow And Extinction, and played their live rendition of the opening track, “Foreigner.” The group gave thanks to Baroness and Tombs for allowing them to be on the tour and for using their equipment. Pallbearer’s set finished up with a new song that began with a rhythm guitar and a great beat from the drummer. Campbell nailed his solo as it laid melodically over the heavy riffs. They finished their long, three-track set, and packed up their equipment.
Baroness singer/guitarist John Baizley conversed with fans as he set up and tuned, and they began their set just after 11. Baizley and guitarist Pete Adams were joined for their first full band show by Nick Jost on bass and Sebastian Thomson on drums. The crowd chanted “welcome back” as “Take My Bones Away” started things off. As “March To The Sea” began, the energy from the crowd was remarkable. Everyone jumped into each other and moved toward the stage as close as they could. Baroness played a mix of older songs like “Steel That Sleeps They Eye” and “A Horse Called Golgotha,” as well as songs from their latest double album, Yellow And Green.
Fans crowd-surfed onto the stage throughout the set. One concertgoer fell on the stage and hit the mic into Baizley as he played guitar. He smirked and continued playing as the attendee jumped back into the crowd and a roadie adjusted the mic back to its proper place. At one point, Baizley and Adams took a moment to thank the fans for giving them such a warm welcome and admitting that they’ve never been this nervous on stage before. They then said that this was the first time they have ever given a speech in between songs. Thomson and Jost did a great job playing newer songs like “Board Up The House” and “Foolsong,” as well as classics like “Isak.” The band worked cohesively together and smiles were shared throughout the performance.
For a moment, the group disappeared to grab some water and returned within a few minutes for their encore. First, it was Baizley and Adams who gave another thank you speech. This time, thanking their label, family and friends who stood on the side of the stage and watched this important event. Baizley responded to a constant request to play “Tower Falls” and said they booked this gig before they had a band, and that they will play what they rehearsed. He wished they could and that they’ll be back to play the song next time around. “Jake Leg” and “The Line Between” closed out the show.
The concert ended, leaving both the audience and the band satisfied. Baroness mingled with fans after the show, expressing their gratitude to those who have helped bring them back. The entire night was an event, not just your typical Friday night concert. Not only is music a passion for many of these fans, but for Baroness as well. What could have ended their lives and careers really just emphasized what they love to do, what they need to do, and what they will continue to do.