I’d never heard of Zeal & Ardor before tonight’s show and, as the six members took the stage amidst on ominous droning growl, the band burst into “In Ashes” and trounced their way through nine songs that had to impress even the most skeptical of patrons in the room. What can only be described as a melange of black metal with blues and gospel elements mixed in for good measure, the three co-lead vocalists along with the bands’ guitarist, bassist, and drummer made for an entertaining live musical experience.
I’ve been clocking their material on Spotify ever since seeing them. As an added bonus, Baroness bassist Nick Jost performed with Zeal & Ardor tonight, Zeal & Ardor mastermind Manuel Gagneux taking the time to thank him as their set ended.
Arguably Zeal & Ardor’s best and most popular song, check out “Devil is Fine.”
Baroness took the stage next. John Dyer Baizley, Gina Gleason, Nick Jost, and Sebastian Thomson strutting onto their minimalist stage set-up and bursting into “A Horse Called Golgotha” off of Baroness’ Blue album. The crowd goes wild. With a new album due in June (Gold & Grey), Baroness are road-testing new material. Tonight we got to hear “Borderlines” and “Can Oscura” from that yet-to-be-released album. If the ambitious Yellow & Green (2012) is any indication, Gold & Grey could be another double album’s worth of material (Baroness tend to title their albums by single colours).
Baroness kicked ass tonight. Gina Gleason is a beast on the guitar, and she fits in so well with Baizley’s guitar and vocal styling. While the pairing of Baroness and Deafheaven seemed to have some fans in bewilderment, both group’s ability to move from moments of shimmering delicacy to utter heaviness made this double bill a logical match in my mind. Extended moodiness around tracks like “Green Theme” and “Eula” resonates with what fans would see an hour later as Deafheaven performed “Honeycomb” and “Dream House.”
The newest song from the Baroness camp, this is the just-released video for “Seasons.”
Deafheaven, cresting high on their recent Grammy nod for “Honeycomb” was much in need of a do-over in Toronto. Their last visit to Canada saw guitarist Kerry McCoy refused entry along with opening band Drab Majesty, which made for some disappointing performances. George Clarke asked if anyone in the room was at that last botched Toronto show, and expressed his gratitude that Kerry was allowed in this time, and that fans came back to see them perform again.
It was obvious that the crowd had thinned out a bit after Baroness (no accounting for taste there), but Deafheaven took the stage and crushed everyone as they ripped through “Brought to the Water,” new track “Black Brick,” “Honeycomb,” “Canary Yellow,” and “Dream House.” George Clarke whipped is head about on stage in such fashion that his hair looked like a propeller, spraying the audience and security people up front with copious amounts of Deafheaven-sweat. While their song count appears short, the song lengths still took this Deafheaven performance to the hour-long mark, and totally left fans wanting more as they wrapped up their energetic performance.
The bottom line? Three influential bands on the same stage for a decent price made this show a winner. I’m delighted I got to see it.
Check out a live rendition of Deafheaven’s “Black Brick.”
Baroness’ Toronto Setlist:
01. A Horse Called Golgotha
02. March to the Sea
03. Green Theme
05. If I Have to Wake Up (Would You Stop the Rain?)
08. Shock Me
09. Can Oscura
10. The Sweetest Curse
12. Take My Bones Away
Deafheaven’ Toronto Setlist:
01. Brought to the Water
02. Black Brick
04. Canary Yellow
05. Dream House