On November 4th Baroness played a show in Antwerp’s largest venue – Sports Palace – in front of 13.000 people when they opened for Danko Jones and Volbeat. All though Baroness sure holds their own when playing arena shows, a lot of their songs really come alive in a smaller, more intimate setting. Bearing that in mind and the fact that the band has a certain special relationship with Antwerp, they returned two weeks later to headline an exclusive club show in Trix Club for only 480 people. And we were there.
Demon Eyes (***)
To get the crowd moving Baroness asked Demon Eyes to open for them. Not the death metal outfit from California, the doom band from North Carolina or the heavy metal band from France. This was Demon Eyes, a power trio from Amsterdam, the Netherlands with members from Vanderbuyst and Vitamin X.
Trix described them as “psyschedelic fuzzed-out trip floating between Black Sabbath, Motörhead, Roky Erickson and The Stooges“. They couldn’t be more right. Demon Eyes delivered a powerful set with some nice classic show elements, including make up to live up to their name. Honestly, I wasn’t entirely blown away, but they delivered a solid performance and were most certainly successful in warming up the crowd and bringing energy levels to an absolute high.
After the change over the lights dimmed and a very big, deep sound filled the room followed by a bombastic piece. The theme from Conan The Barbarian functioned as intro while the band came on stage. During the intro the crowd went completely silent in anticipation of what we had all been waiting for: an exclusive small venue show by Baroness. This show was originally planned to take place in Trix Café, the bar of the complex that can hold about 100 to 150 people. However, the demand for tickets was so high that the event sold out immediately so the decision was made to bump the show up to the Trix Club where 480 attended. Which is still a pretty small and cosy crowd. Especially when they’re all like-minded and warm like this crowd was.
It’s not rare for Baroness to have the people eat out of their hands from the start, but this time the crowd went crazy even before a note was played. I’m pretty sure John Dyer Baizley entering the stage wearing an Amenra shirt (which is a much beloved Belgian band) had something to do with that. A premonition later confirmed by Baizley himself when he posted an Instagram story showing him with the shirt and the phrase: “How to woo a Belgian crowd“.
The band didn’t hold back one bit and opened strong with ‘Throw Me An Anchor‘, immediately followed by ‘A Horse Called Golgotha’ and the crowd loved it. 480 people inside and not one remained static. It was the first time I saw Baroness live in this configuration (John Dyer Baizley, Sebastian Thomson, Gina Gleason and Nick Jost) but I instantly (figuratively) fell in love with Gina. Not only does she manage to squeeze an otherworldly sound out of a simple Telecaster, she also has one hell of a dedication level! At one certain moment she wanted to jump off stage to play in the crowd. Unfortunately her foot caught something and she tripped, almost launching her off stage face first. Two guys on the front row had the reflex to catch her, keep her the right side up and put her down on the floor. She smiled and never missed a note. This thought me that Gleason would rather fall flat on her face than screw up the song. Respect times one thousand!
One thing that really stood out – and contributed to my first ever five star review – was how content Baizley, Gleason, Jost and Thomson all were. Baroness is widely known to always deliver an explosive show, but this night had that little extra. That feeling of exclusivity on the crowd’s side, but just as well a certain happiness on the band’s part. John later explained that it was day 62 on the current tour – they had been touring earlier this year as well – and they missed their loved ones, but a show like this made it all worth it. They genuinely enjoyed headlining again and thus doing whatever they want instead of opening for other bands in big arenas. “We only get to play an hour a night” John said when introducing the second part of the show. “Thanks for letting us stretch it out a bit tonight. These are the songs we didn’t deem worthy for the arenas. They don’t have the energy for big arena shows“.
In short: This band, this crowd, this venue, … What a match! The setlist was a carefully selected and well balanced selection of their finest work spread across all albums and everything just fell into place like an eclectic progressive jig saw puzzle. There was even a fair amount of crowd surfing. By some crowd members as well as by Gina. While playing! Did I mention how awesome she is already? After playing a few calmer songs the band tied it all up with two of my personal favourites. ‘Isak‘ and ‘Take My Bones Away‘, making the room explode before leaving the people with a fuzzy feeling. This show was a real treat. For the crowd as well as for the band.
- Throw Me An Anchor
- A Horse Called Golgotha
- March To The Sea
- Little Things
- If I Don’t Have To Wake Up (Would You Stop The Rain)
- Shock Me
- Chlorine & Wine
- The Gnashing
- The Sweetest Curse
- Take My Bones Away
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