For the first time since the pandemic, Georgia prog-metal legends Baroness return to the river city with an extended performance at Richmond Music Hall at Capital Ale House. And if you’re wondering whether you should go, let us be clear: the answer is yes.
Long-running progressive metal titans Baroness are not, technically, from Richmond; despite connections with the small Virginia city of Lexington, Baroness actually hails from Savannah, Georgia, where they originally came together in 2003 (which is… wow, damn near twenty years ago. We’re gettin’ old, y’all…). However, like the United Kingdom and the USA, Richmond and Baroness have always enjoyed somewhat of a special relationship. Those connections, which originally arose from the band’s roots in Lexington, were strengthened by the nine years Pete Adams, guitarist for VA metallers Valkyrie, spent playing rhythm guitar with Baroness. However, Pete left a few years ago. So the question, as Baroness returns to Richmond for the first time since the pandemic wiped out pretty much all live music for a solid 18 months, is: Does Baroness still maintain a special relationship with Richmond?
Well, if Richmond has any taste, it certainly should! Less than a decade ago, Pitchfork hailed Richmond as one of five American cities setting the pace for metal in the USA, and while the forces of indie and, um, yacht rock have indeed established a beachhead here in Richmond in the intervening years, I can’t be the only one who thinks this city’s metal scene is still fertile and thriving, right? Therefore, it should by rights embrace the return of one of Richmond’s longtime faves from outside the borders of the river city — especially since Baroness are still, nearly 20 years into their career, a really great band.
If you didn’t hear 2019’s Gold & Grey (I really admire Baroness’s commitment to the exclusive use of colors with which to name their albums, but at this point I have to wonder how long it’ll be before they’re calling albums things like “taupe” and “fuchsia”), you might have wondered if they had anything left to offer the metal faithful. After all, as mentioned earlier, Pete Adams had left, and singer/guitarist John Dyer Baizley was the only remaining original member. However, with their last lineup shakeup, Baroness just used the opportunity to push the creative envelope even further. They brought in guitarist Gina Gleason, whose extensive resume includes everything from Smashing Pumpkins and Jello Biafra to Metalocalypse and all-female Metallica tribute Misstallica, and even… a Michael Jackson-themed Cirque Du Soleil production?
Well, you certainly have to admit she’s a versatile player. And that versatility combines well with the 2019 model of Baroness, as Gleason contributes not only a ton of brilliant licks but an intriguing additional vocal layer, as can be heard on Gold & Grey highlight “Tourniquet.” That song, and really the entire album, proves that a band from Georgia can follow the path toward prog, and greatly expanding its creative palette, without losing track of the fundamental heaviness that made them good in the first place (cough-Mastodon-cough). Since the pandemic, Baroness has even released a live EP, Live At Maida Vale BBC, Vol. II, which showcases the power and strength of some of Gold & Grey‘s best songs in the live arena.
You’ll get an up close and personal view of this power if you make it out to Richmond Music Hall at Capital Ale House this Sunday, November 7, for an evening of prog metal amazingness with Baroness. Unfortunately, it’s too late to vote on the band’s set list — you had to buy your tickets and vote at least eight days prior to the show — so you’ll have to hope a whole bunch of other people have already gotten “Tower Falls” onto the setlist. However, even if the whole night ends up consisting of material from their most recent albums, rest assured you will get a dose of prime Baroness brilliance.
You will almost certainly not, however, get a dose of COVID along with your ticket; the show is open only to those who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. So bring along your vax card! And get there early, because there’s no opening act on this one. Tickets are $60 (steep, but worth it), and you can grab yours from The Broadberry Entertainment Group’s website. Richmond Music Hall at Capital Ale House is located at 619 E. Main St. Doors open at 7 pm.