It was a long fucking winter.
Like a bear emerging from hibernation, I had to force my Bob Wiley ass to get off the fucking couch and head out to the ONE show I attended in March of 2019. It had been literal months of only leaving my house for work or food, but when the snow finally melts, so does the apparent layer of ice that covers every venue in this god forsaken city like some sort of shitty Legend of Zelda temple that you don’t *QUITE* have the right tools to enter yet. Or maybe I should get out more instead of laying in the house playing Nintendo like some fucking nerd.
I walked into The Riviera Theater just as Zeal & Ardor started their set. It was early on a Sunday, but the venue was already packed. And with it being so dark and crowded, it took some navigating and a couple of tries to get to a spot I was happy with. But once I was there and paying attention, Zeal & Ardor was fucking tight. The only thought I had in my head watching them was, “this is probably exactly who Thrice wishes they could be.” Except you know, if you replaced all The Devil shit with God. The other weird thing is they had two backup singers, like an anti-gospel metal Soul Stirrers. They made it work though.
Deafheaven was up next, and I honestly thought up until this point their name was Defhaven, so that should tell you all you need to know about my knowledge of the band. I did have my preconceived notions of what the band might be, but then they came out sounding like a band that Bam Margera would be into and basically told those notions to get fucked. Suddenly, those seats at the top of the venue were looking pretty good since this was a co-headlining show and I knew they would be playing for nothing short of 45 minutes. Deafheaven might not have been my specific cup of tea, but they commanded the stage and audience and apparently they have been nominated for a Grammy. So, what the fuck do I know? Shout out to the guy also sitting at the top, scrolling through Facebook on his phone and seeing a picture of his buddy with what I assumed is an unknown woman, and zooming in on her tits over and over and over and obviously desperately trying to figure out who she was. Turn your screen brightness down, you pervert.
I made my way back down to the standing area for Baroness. I have been listening to them since I accidentally clicked on one of their Red Album songs that came up in my Mastodon Suggested Artist lists sometime around 2009. I watched them grow from this ‘this band is pretty good’ to the epic album that was 2012’s Yellow & Green, followed by their latest album, Purple, in 2015. But somehow, in the decade or so since I’ve been listening to them, I’ve never managed to see them play live. But here I was standing amongst several hundred strangers watching Baroness kick their show off with “A Horse Called Golgotha” off their Blue album.
Back in 2012, Baroness was involved in a pretty gnarly bus crash somewhere out in London that ultimately made two members quit the band. But here seven years later, it looks like that was just a distant memory. Baroness looked like they were having fun playing, and while they mostly stuck to songs off their last Purple album, they did manage squeeze in my favorite three songs off Yellow & Green AND play a couple off their upcoming Gold & Grey, scheduled to come out in June. The best part? When they left the stage the house lights came up. NO ENCORE! Thank you for using your allotted time wisely.
I checked the time and it was only like 10:30PM. I fucking love early shows. Despite not talking to anyone, or drinking anything, this was a pretty good warm up to integrate myself back into society post-winter madness. In the days since the Baroness show, I have been to four more shows and have actually talked to several people who were not my girlfriend or her cat. Baby steps. Dr. Leo Marvin would be proud.