Baroness, playing the Regency Ballroom, is back in action after a devastating 2012 bus accident. (Courtesy Jimmy Hubbard)

Baroness comes back with golden giveaway

When Baroness brings its infectious sludge rock to the Regency Ballroom next week, the band will bring a taste of Willy Wonka, too.

Inspired by Wonka’s golden tickets, Baroness will stash a pair of free tickets to the gig — and a chocolate bar — in a secret location the day of the show. Whoever figures out the hint on Baroness’ Instagram feed and finds the goodies will win the tickets and meet the band, currently touring to promote its latest album, “Purple.”

Baroness frontman John Baizley, also an accomplished artist and designer, says he came up with the idea one day while thinking of other ticket giveaways they’d done.

“I had the golden ticket song in my head, and it struck me that we could do the purple ticket!” He designed the wrapper by matching all the typefaces and design from the Wonka version. “It’s silly, something fun to do.”

Baroness was in serious need of fun after a 2012 bus crash in England that left two former bandmembers with spinal injuries and crushed Baizley’s left arm so badly that doctors considered amputating it.

During those scary first days, while facing the possibility he’d never play guitar again, Baizley received two important phone calls from Bay Area musicians — Metallica’s James Hetfield and Neurosis’ Scott Kelly — that helped him turn the corner from despair to hope.

Metallica lost its legendary bass player, Cliff Burton, in a bus accident in 1986; Kelly’s personal struggles have informed Neurosis’ cathartic music for decades. Both told Baizley, in no uncertain terms, that he’d get through it.

“Hearing anybody you know who has gotten through the other side say, ‘It’s going to be all right’ has such a profound impact when you need it,” Baizley says. “And at the point I got those calls, I needed it.”

That support — coupled with having his wife, young daughter and bandmate Pete Adams at the hospital with him — helped Baizley get the band on its feet again. Baroness returned to the stage less than a year after the accident and released its most muscular, energetic album to date last December. Although the lyrics are incredibly dark, the music crackles with brightness, turning hard times into triumph.

Baizley says that’s partly because the band’s two newest members, bassist Nick Jost and drummer Sebastian Thompson, didn’t want to be held responsible for “screwing up the band” if the foursome went in a somber direction. But it also allowed Baizley’s lyrics to be raw and honest, which he needed after the crash and the departure of beloved bandmates.

“I had more than an overflowing cup of frustration, anxiety and pain. So I put it into this record, which I thought was beautiful and energetic,” he says. “Put in the content of the music, they don’t sound difficult.”


Where: Regency Ballroom, 1300 Van Ness Ave., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. June 2
Tickets: $25 to $28

BaronessCliff BurtonJames HetfieldJohn BaizleyPete AdamsPop MusicScott Kelly

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