Enlarge Photo by by Corrine Schiavone

Deafheaven and Baroness Send Frenetic Shockwaves Through Austin Crowd

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It was spring break and SXSW was going full throttle in Austin, TX, making for an interesting experience at the Baroness and Deafheaven show at Emo’s on March 9th. As the venue began to fill up, I couldn’t help but keep turning back to scope out the crowd because, for the first time in a while, I was standing in an audience that wasn’t a blob of black clothes and band tees. All I could make out from a scan of the room was a dude in a Skeletonwitch shirt and, in the midst of beards and prescription Ray Bans, a Revocation tee. It was a beautiful sight.

If you’re planning on making it out to a date on this tour, I know the instinct is usually to get there late enough to miss the opening band. But do yourself a favor: DON’T. In case you’ve been listening to the same three albums on repeat for far too long, Zeal & Ardor blew up last year on the back of their latest album Stranger Fruit, combining elements of soul, blues, and funk with heavier music. Seeing them perform live was an intimate experience I’m glad I didn’t miss; the band is truly a collective effort, with every member pitching in to sing and add their own footprint to each song, conveying raw emotion and feeling.

Deafheaven opened up with “Brought to the Water,” which served as a warm-up to the complete obliteration that would follow… because once the band played their newest one-off single, “Black Brick,” I had no idea which way was up. While initially only the most obvious metalheads were up in the pit, as George Clarke guided his audience through the nuances of Deafheaven’s music I was thrilled to see the pit get bigger and bigger as the show went on, ending with a full-on explosion for “Dream House.” It was a melting pot, if you will, of people with different tastes and ideas of how to enjoy a show coming together to let out some pent-up emotions and enjoy a special breed of music. Deafheaven succeed in intertwining predominantly black metal-based music with a more accessible sound, making metal fans out of everyone. And somehow in the midst of all the moshing and pushing, the dude in the Skeletonwitch shirt ended up behind me proclaiming aloud about Clarke, “He’s awesome. He’s like a black metal Freddie Mercury!” And without a doubt, Clarke delivers a memorable show as he dances and makes love to the music on stage. Bring extra panties (that goes for the dudes too); I can’t guarantee you won’t need them.

Having only recently gotten into Baroness and their discography in its entirety — I’ll admit I was primarily at the show for Deafheaven — I found Baroness to be the perfect cool down to the pandemonium that Deafheaven had brought upon us. Once Baroness began their set the crowd began swaying, head-banging, and dancing to “A Horse Called Golgotha.” Their performance was a sublime experience of camaraderie between everyone in the crowd as we all collectively sang our lungs out to the band’s greatest hits such as “Shock Me,” “Take My Bones Away,” “Kerosene,” and their newest song off of their upcoming Gold & Grey album, “Borderlines.”

If you’ve got a tour date hitting a city near you, take that one friend you’re always trying to spoon-feed metal and go for a ride on the metal pony together. The combination of these three bands makes for a unique live experience that brings everyone together to both riot and be serenaded all in one go. By the end of the night, the once colorful blob turned into a crowd of metaphorical black tees.

Catch this tour at one of the remaining dates below:

03/20 – Vancouver, BC @ The Vogue Theatre
03/22 – Edmonton, AB @ Union Hall
03/23 – Calgary, AB @ The Palace Theatre
03/24 – Spokane, WA @ The Knitting Factory
03/26 – Salt Lake City, UT @ The Complex
03/27 – Denver, CO @ The Ogden Theater
03/29 – Minneapolis, MN @ Skyway Theatre
03/30 – Madison, WI @ The Sylvee
03/31 – Chicago, IL @ Riviera Theater
04/02 – Toronto, ON @ The Danforth Music Hall
04/03 – Montreal, QC @ The Corona Theater
04/05 – Sayreville, NJ @ Starland Ballroom
04/06 – Worcester, MA @ The Palladium
04/07 – Albany, NY @ Upstate Concert Hall
04/09 – Cleveland, OH @ Agora Theatre
04/10 – Silver Spring, MD @ The Fillmore
04/12 – New York, NY @ Terminal 5
04/13 – Philadelphia, PA @ The Fillmore / Decibel Metal & Beer Fest (Baroness)
04/14 – Philadelphia, PA @ The Fillmore / Decibel Metal & Beer Fest (Deafheaven)

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