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Concert Review

Ministry Concert Review 3/18/22

The buildup to Ministry’s “Industrial Strength Tour” was long and ever-shifting. Originally being scheduled for late 2020 with support from KMFDM and Front-Line Assembly, the onset of the pandemic pushed the shows to late 2021 with Helmet replacing KMFDM. These dates also inevitably fell through, and the tour pushed back once again, this time to the spring of 2022. Helmet and Front-Line Assembly were no longer attached to the tour, but the final lineup was one I was just as excited for: Ministry, Melvins and Raleigh’s own Corrosion of Conformity (CoC).

Corrosion of Conformity

The first opening set from Corrosion of Conformity was probably what I was most excited for from this show, and boy did it deliver. The show kicked off with an abridged version of the instrumental “Bottom Feeder” led by bassist Mike Dean to set the tone; monstrously heavy. Following the Sabbath-like appetizer, the band jumped straight into “Paranoid Opioid” a rapid-fire track from 2005’s In the Arms of God. Halfway through the show was my personal highlight, “Vote With a Bullet” from Blind, my personal favorite album from CoC, and a song that single-handedly caused me neck pain for a week from headbanging. The show closed out with their 2 most widely known classic tracks, “Albatross” and “Clean My Wounds,” both from 1994’s Deliverance. The latter got an extended jam treatment in the middle of it, including introductions of the band from frontman Pepper James Keenan. In the end, CoC put on an incredibly tight performance that did an amazing job of introducing the audience to the direction the night was heading.

Melvins

The only band that I had not seen prior to this show was The Melvins, whose 40-year career includes 25 (soon to be 26) studio albums, which the band managed to put together an excellent sampler set of. The trio led by guitarist Buzz Osborne opened the set with “The Kicking Machine,” a bluesy track that almost sounds like it could be on a Cactus record in the ‘70s. The sound very quickly shifted to the sludge metal tone the Melvins are known for however as they moved into material from Bullhead and Stoner Witch, which seriously highlighted the sonic powerhouse that the band is in its current iteration. Buzz’s guitar tone keeps the notes ringing out clearly without sacrificing any grit or gain, Steven McDonald provides a rocking low end with the bass and delivers great backing vocals, and drummer Dale Crover keeps a tight groove with the band alongside his ferocious performance. The set closed out with three classic songs, “Hooch,” “Honey Bucket,” and “The Bit” which the crowd responded to with the start of a sizeable mosh pit in the left wing. Overall, the Melvins put forth a great set with a lot of variety, sounded incredible the whole time, and also demonstrate a serious amount of professional showmanship.

Ministry

During the setup for the headlining set, a chainlink fence was erected at the front of the stage, matching the industrial edge of the music. Ministry never let the foot off the gas from the time the show started until the end of the 15 song set. After being introduced to the stage in front of a projected display of the Ukrainian flag with a message of support, the band launched into “Breathe” to a blinding light show and pounding drums, with frontman Al Jourgensen belting out the words with as much power and aggression as ever. Little downtime was spent before moving into the set’s 3 songs from 1988’s The Land of Rape and Honey, including “The Missing,” which led to a mosh pit spanning the width of the floor and crowdsurfers being sent into the air.  About halfway through the set, the focus moved from the earlier Ministry material into songs Al Jourgensen did in other projects, including 2 songs from Pailhead, a project with Minor Threat’s Ian MacKaye, which I would not have in a million years expected to hear live. Standouts from the latter half of the show were an intense experience in the mosh pit for “Just One Fix” and the deafening yelling of the words to “Thieves” from the crowd. The encore saw the fence come down as 2 songs from last year’s Moral Hygiene were performed, which really sounded so much better live than they do on the album. Ministry closed out with an incredible cover of The Stooges’ “Search and Destroy” in a very intimate fashion that felt like a spot-on way to end the show.

At the end of the night, I was nearly deaf and absolutely exhausted from an amazing show. I’m glad the tour finally got to be seen through, and that the Raleigh date was added after initially not being on the tour. If you’ve not seen any of these bands in person, I would highly recommend doing so, they all deliver such strong and dedicated performances that it’s worth every penny. 

– Ezra Kinsch

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Concert Review

Circle Jerks Concert Review

The chance to see Circle Jerks in 2021 felt like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, let alone seeing them with Negative Approach and Municipal Waste at a venue like Cat’s Cradle. The sold-out show was easily one of the best of the year for me, and believe me, it had some tough competition.

Negative Approach

As soon as singer John Brannon took the stage, I knew what this set was going to be like; loud, aggressive, and everything you would expect from a legendary hardcore punk band such as Negative Approach. The nonstop set was accompanied by the start of a mosh pit, though it seemed the venue was not at capacity at this point, and the pit was nowhere near as large as it would grow to by the end of the night. Despite the seemingly smaller crowd, the band was on fire, with Brannon’s ferocious vocals on classics such as “Evacuate” and “Hypocrite” standing out.

Municipal Waste

Seeing Municipal Waste on this billing took me by surprise, but I am certainly not complaining as I’d been waiting for a chance to see the Richmond-based thrashers. They did not disappoint in the slightest, going straight into the rapid fire riffs and short songs the band is known for. A mosh pit opened like the parting of the red sea next to me and eventually led to a circle pit around a support beam in the middle of the room (a suggestion from singer Tony Foresta). The standout moment of the set was “Wave of Death ” in which Foresta commanded us in the crowd to crowd-surf a kid who couldn’t have been more than 12 years old for the entire song. Though material from their debut album has been absent from their recent sets, the band broke out “Substitute Creature” (with guitarist Ryan Waste sharing vocal duties) at the request of members of the crowd. The set finished off with a wholesome dedication to Foresta’s family, who apparently had been able to see the band perform only a handful of times over their 20-year span.

Circle Jerks

I want to preface this by saying that Circle Jerks started in 1979, and Keith Morris sounds the exact same as he did then. While the stage show may not have been as energetic as they were 40 years ago, I’m more than willing to let that slide given just how great they sounded after such a long time playing together. The Jerks started off with “Deny Everything” the opening track to their debut album Group Sex, and throughout the night performed the whole album with the exception of the title track. The pit for the Jerks was shockingly intense, and I quickly jumped in when my personal favorite song, “Stars and Stripes” was played 4 songs into the set. The 33 song long setlist was broken up by breaks where Morris talked to the crowd, making jokes and some comments about the Tar Heels, before usually being cut short by the rest of the band continuing with the show. The band finished out their set with an encore featuring classics “What’s Your Problem” and “Question Authority” to a cheering crowd.

I’m incredibly grateful that Cat’s Cradle was able to arrange having me as a press guest for this show, and I really cannot put into words how incredible the night was. Not only were the performances stellar, but I also got to meet some new friends in the punk community, which is personally one of the best things about shows finally being back after so long.

-Ezra Kinsch