House of Blues Anaheim
Last night, old school industrial rocker Al Jourgensen, the lead singer / songwriter of Ministry, kicked off the latest Ministry tour at House of Blues Anaheim. The tour supports his band’s recent album, AmeriKKKant, and featured opening acts The God Bombs, Chelsea Wolfe as well as two large inflatable roosters designed to look like Donald Trump.
Anyone going to a Ministry show knows that they’re in for an evening of vicious music. Most of the crowd at Anaheim’s House of “Sardines” [if you’ve ever seen a concert there, you’ll understand] looked to have been attending such vicious concerts since Ministry first made the transition from synth pop to industrial metal in the mid 1980’s. By their ages, the rest of the audience looked like they picked up the beat in the 21st century, as there were not too many people who appeared to be under 30.
The entertainment began at 7:30 pm with The God Bombs, a three piece outfit from New York. Lead singer Justin Symbol roared, howled, and rolled his eyes back into his head while thrashing about on the stage for just over a half hour while his bandmates Jabbath Roa (guitar) and Edrick Supervi (drums) created some nice sonic chaos over the rest of their pre-recorded instrument tracks.
Afterwards, Chelsea Wolfe, a California native, continued the show. Her set, performed with Bryan Tulao (guitar), Ben Chisholm (keys/bass), and Jess Gowrie (drums), was a bit more ethereal than that of The God Bombs, but it gave the audience plenty of beats to thrash along with. Wolfe’s set was also performed with some pre-recorded music.
At 9 p.m. the stage was cleared for the main act, and the two 10-foot inflatable roosters with Trump-styled hair and swastikas within “no” signs were set up on either side of the stage. Then, at 9:30, Ministry started their show with “Twilight Zone” from their new album. The band members appeared onstage gradually as the song began with, well, pre-recorded music (or at least extensive samples). DJ Swamp (scratching), John Bechdel (keyboards) were joined by Derek Abrams (drums), Tony Campos (bass), Sin Quirin (guitar), Cesar Soto (guitar), and finally “Uncle Al” Jourgensen, who periodically proceeded to kick one of the inflatable roosters for the course of his hour and a half set.
As expected, Ministry’s show maintained a furious energy from beginning to end. The setlist prominently featured material from their new album. Guest vocalist Burton C. Bell (Fear Factory) was brought onstage to sing some of it, starting with their second song, “Victims of a Clown.” They then performed “Punch in the Face” from From Beer to Eternity, “Señor Peligro” and “Lies, Lies, Lies” from Rio Grande Blood, before returning to the new material with “We’re Tired of It,” “Wargasm,” and “Antifa.” During the latter, a two member Antifa colorguard marched the stage, bearing flags and wearing hoods.
Throughout most of the show, the stage lighting maintained a seizure-inducing pace while the backing filmstrip morphed from images of right wing presidents (especially Trump) to seemingly random imagery such as a man getting his hair cut [message about conformity?]. The visuals were transitioned with various psychedelic images and effects. Meanwhile the music was cranked so loudly that even those wearing earplugs could feel the damage. Towards the end of his set, Al announced that since the crowd had been nice enough to pay for their tickets, he would give them some of their favorite old tunes. Thus, they played: “Just One Fix” and “NWO” from Psalm 69 and “Thieves” and “So What” from The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste. For their one encore, they performed “Bad Blood,” from Dark Side of the Spoon.
It is always a colorful event to go to a Ministry concert. The old guard of the industrial dance / rock movement is still alive and well, and they are still dancing the dance of anger directed at institutional racism and violence. And while these things are probably not going away any time soon, it is nice know that a community exists wherein people can purge their feelings of anathema towards Big Brother.