The Industrial Strength Tour: Ministry, Melvins, & Corrosion of Conformity

Photos and Review by Heather Burditt

(Original review published by UnHinged Mag, republished with permission)

Aptly named, this tour is everything you wanted in a post pandemic nostalgia world; except that we aren’t post-pandemic at all. But we ARE nostalgic. Another sold out show at The Orange Peel (on a Sunday night!?) says the people want to get out and they want heavy metal. We’re ready. Asheville wasn’t even on the tour route when it was announced! Give us a bunch of 80’s bands, with members over 50 and I AM THERE. My favorite crowd jacket of the night had a patch on the back that said “Don’t grow up. It’s a trick.”

Corrosion of Conformity is a metal machine. They played through and ended their set with as much energy and just as tight as they opened it. And within minutes of tearing up the stage, frontman, Pepper Keenan was down at the merch table taking photos with and meeting fans. Staying real to their fans and breaking that fifth wall. You can’t measure the happiness that I saw people walking away with.

The Melvins trio hit the stage to the music of Sanford & Sons. They projected a portrait of Endora from Bewitched as their background, psychedelic lighting which is basically a photographic nightmare, and cult leader garb. If you didn’t know what you were in for you might think they were about to bust out with a rock version of Aquarius. But heavy rock and roll is what they gave us. Which is a sampling of bass riding, head banging, genre bending metal with melodic overtones and a whole lot of psychedelic imagery to play with the rest of our senses.

During the Ministry set-up, Endora was replaced with William S. Burroughs. A friend and collaborator of lead singer, Al Jourgenson, which gave way to the Ukranian flag, with a message of support. The crowd cheered, restrained and respectful. We all felt it. I heard ahead of time that Ministry would be performing with their cage. I didn’t fully appreciate what this meant for me until I saw it go up. In fact, a Ministry show might be my biggest challenge yet. Chain link fence lining the front of the stage while the entire band moves around behind it. Lights in your face, lights from the back, strobes, and a projection screen facing the crowd. Then again, this situation is what I love most about concert photography. Every moment is a challenge, you work with limited time, get hit in the head with another photographer’s camera, and you keep going. It’s an exhilarating way to create art.

The band began their set with Breathe, right off their 1989 album, The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste. As a kid with a busy mind, I remember playing this loud in my headphones as a sort of mind clearing meditation. The fence, the lighting, and the fog presents a dark, chaotic, and intense space. Fans flash devil horns while Jorgenson performs from behind his Christian cross mic stand. The 1000+ person venue feels small and like we’re all trapped in it.. The industrial sound that Ministry is famous for permeates every bone in your body and all you can do is feel it.


Corrosion of Conformity

The Melvins

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