My goal was to hit up two shows last night. Yeah, I’m a bit insane but, when you live in a city with so much great live music, it’s hard to settle on just one show a night. I had a game plan as to how I was going to hit both– stay at the Skyway for the opener and a couple of songs of headliner and then run over to the Entry to catch the final set of the show there. It was going to work out marvelously. I was going to have my cake and eat it too. Of course it was too good to be true, my flawless plan was foiled by a forty-five minute delay at The Skyway so, for better or for worse, Ministry and Death Grips were the only bands I got to see last night.
As I mentioned, the show was pushed back by forty-five minutes for undisclosed reasons. Unfortunately, I had already made my way downtown and was in the venue when I received the news so I stood there, and stood there, and stood there some more. I watched as the Skyway Theatre quickly filled to the brim with a young crowd that seemed super eager to drink and take whatever drugs they could find on the smoking patio. This was not at all what I was expecting. Ministry is an older industrial band with a cult-like following of older people. Here I was thinking that Ministry had done what too many bands have tried to do and failed at– gained a following of a young crowd even though their music has been going on for decades. What I forgot to think about was the fact that there was an opener I knew nothing about.
Dubbed as an experimental hip-hop group, Death Grips from Sacramento, California was the first and only opener for the show. You could feel the anticipation in the air prior to the show starting and, as soon as the house lights went down and three shadows appeared on the stage, the crowd erupted in a way that caught me completely off guard. I thought I had a safe spot towards the front of the crowd and off to the side but I was instantly lost in a moving sea of people. I tried to stay optimistic as I found myself with zero personal space and a bunch of strangers pushing against me and I was looking forward to the stage lights coming on so I could see this band that everyone was so stoked to see. Those lights never came on.
As the three members took their spots on stage and the drummer started in on the first song, lasers shot out of all of the members hands. What do I mean? Exactly what I just said. It seemed as if each member had gloves on that had lasers pointing off of their knuckles. No matter how I try and explain this, it’s going to sound insane and weird but, let me tell you, it was nothing short of mesmerizing. I was literally watching the light show being made in front of my eyes and it matched the music perfectly because, well, they moved as the drummer, DJ and singer moved. At times it was blinding, and there were points where I was getting a headache from watching the lasers dance around the crowd but it was still mesmerizing.
Death Grips music was extreme. It was loud, intense and abrasive. It made you want to move around and push the people around you a bit. The extremeness of the music truly set Death Grips apart from other bands that I’ve seen. I would compare them to other bands in this genre so you could get a feel for their sound but there’s honestly nothing else like it… at least nothing I’ve heard before.
In-between sets I watched as people checked the pulse (literally) of the guy that was slouched over one of the couched. I watched as youngsters stumbled around trying to find their friends. Much like during the blackbear set on Sunday, I was feeling my age and felt more than out of place. I could hear the sound check for Ministry starting so I left my haven of the lounge area and headed towards the area in front of the stage. My heart sunk when I realized some of the crowd hadn’t returned after Death Grips. Here was Ministry– a legendary industrial metal band that I had been listening to for years. A band that has influenced too many other bands to list yet the young crowd didn’t care. They didn’t even try and stay for a couple of songs.
Seeing Ministry live helped me justify picking this show over everything else that was happening in town. Their energy and power had my face instantly turning into a grin. The heavy music had me nodding my head with the older crowd that had stayed in the venue. I felt more at peace within just a couple minutes of Ministry’s set than I had for all of Death Grips’ set. The people around me were respecting my personal space and the mosh pit was contained to one area so you could chose to be part of it or not. The music was easy listening compared to the opening act which, if you’ve listened to Ministry, is really saying something.
The political undertones of Ministry is something that I have always loved. Their stage was set up with two giant blow-up chickens that had a striking resemblance to our dear old president and crossed out swastikas on their stomachs. With thirteen albums out and one on the way, Ministry has always been relevant– especially with the political climate we all live in today. Beyond the politics, their music has lasted decades and there’s no end in sight. It’s heavy and brutal while keeping a sense of purpose about it. It’s everything that I love and everything that I wish fans of the opening act would have stuck around to see. Hearing some of the new songs that will be released early next year on Ministry’s newest album “AmeriKKKant” has me super excited for the future of this band. The set was a great mix of nearly twenty songs that came from Ministry’s entire catalog. Some of Ministry’s songs date back to the early 1980’s but are still somehow relevant today. Now, I’ll admit, that’s kind of sad that some of those songs are still relevant nearly forty years after the fact but it also proves how the members of Ministry have always had a finger on the pulse. They aren’t oblivious to what’s going on and they aren’t afraid to address it either.
Last night was a perfect mix of old and new. Regardless of your age and your taste in music, there was something for you last night.