I had FOMO. I was sitting at work while watching people post pictures of Baroness doing an in-store performance at Down in the Valley in Golden Valley (a suburb of Minneapolis). I honestly could have asked to leave early to attend but things have been so crazy lately and I just had to put my head down and continue working through the afternoon. I knew that that show was going to be so epic, so intimate, so perfect, but I also knew that their performance on Tuesday night at First Avenue would be just as amazing so I held out and tried to not let the FOMO get the best of me.
Opening up the Tuesday night show was Spotlights. This trio has been grinding for years on years yet Tuesday night was my first time seeing them live (at least that I can remember). Their quick thirty-minute opening set was exactly what I would expect from a band like this– it was dark, moody, loud, and flawless. The vibrations throughout First Avenue were just as epic as the sound with my three nose piercings rattling around creating a sense that I had to sneeze throughout the set. Although that part of the set was a bit obnoxious and distracting, I felt myself instantly get lost in Spotlights’ world. The soundscapes that this trio creates are nothing short of epic and the way their performance comes with no frills and very little action adds something a bit cozy and dreamy to their ridiculously dark sound. Honestly, as I sit here trying to explain their set, I realize just how hard it is to describe what happened during their time on stage but that seemed to just be the cherry on top of a perfect beginning to Tuesday night’s show.
The first time I heard Chat Pile, I couldn’t help but relate them to the band IDLES. There was that same intensity in the music but also that same strange unclassifiable sound. It’s a bit post-punk and super intense much like IDLES but, where Chat Pile takes a left turn is with their sludge metal sound that comes through here and there and the way their sound almost bridges into the abstract at times. Because of the insane intensity, I expected a live set much like IDLES– intimidating and severe but that is far from what I got. Instead, I got what felt like a band just hanging out in a garage with a vocalist who, at times, didn’t quite seem to know where he was or what he was doing (and I realize that sounds bad but I promise, it wasn’t a bad thing). There was something informal about their performance which could be attributed to vocalist Raygun Busch (Randy Heyer) wandering around the stage aimlessly without a shirt or shoes on and just donning striped shorts that looked a bit like swim trunks. Again, it just felt so laid back and informal– not at all what I was expecting.
Musically, Chat Pile was on point. Listening to their set I could hear a little bit of everything from Korn to Bad Brains and it was perfect. Each member brought a special sauce to the stage and the sound and I loved seeing it all come together in real life rather than just hearing it on a recording. I loved Chat Pile when walking into First Avenue on Tuesday night but, by the time their set was done, I was obsessed. Mark my words– Chat Pile is going to blow up and I, for one, can’t wait to see where their unique sound and strange stage antics take them.
Baroness has been around since 2003 and have been constantly working their butts off since then. Between constant touring and six full-length albums, this band has truly been on the grind since day one and it seems to keep paying off for them as every time I see them, people seem more excited and more engaged than the last. That was true of Tuesday night’s performance. Although I love seeing Baroness perform, they aren’t a band that I listen to on my day to day so I was unable to sing along to their poignant lyrics but I was alone in that. I watched in awe as the audience members around me clearly had the time of their lives singing through their set which lasted around fifteen songs.
Much like Spotlights’ set, I realize as I sit here now, how hard it is to describe a Baroness show. It’s dark and moody but comes with an undeniable sense of life and excitement. Every note, like every movement on stage, is intentional and adds something to the set. The four members of Baroness are true musicians who are clearly masters of their craft and that adds something to their live performances that many bands lack. Long story short, although I seem to be lost for words when it comes to the majority of Tuesday night’s show, it was one of those nights that was just a solid good old-fashioned concert that left me so honored to have had the chance to experience it all.