Hey, blogspot readers, it's "date" night during this special On The Town adventure. Well, not really an actual boyfriend-girlfriend date night for SouthSide. She's simply hanging out with one of her many buds - Shawn Kellner, keyboardist of Top Shelf Lickers. Together, we went to see the legendary Ministry rock the stage during one of their two-night Chicago performances at Vic Theatre. The band, now performing as an industrial metal, once pioneered the synthpop in the early 80s with hits like (Everyday Is) Halloween but during the late 80s (til present), Al Jourgensen (front man/guitarist) revamped Ministry's sound as well as its lyrical focus.
Opening for Ministry tonight was the Cleopatra Records duo - Blackburner (http://www.blackburner.org/), two of the creepiest "Frank" looking (Donnie Darko reference) characters ever seen on stage, blogspot readers. Shawn's take on their appearance at first was "...I'm so disturbed and confused..." due to the shock value this electronica/dubstep pair had during their performance. The pair appeared on stage with glowing LED eyes and bunny ears rockin' the audience with its hardcore guitar riffs amidst a disturbing array of laser lights, special fx (a fire extinguisher) and creepy electronica rhythms. As amazing as this opening set was, it soon fell horribly flat after reaching the middle of the set. Why? The momentum had totally lost its luster, the "Frank" weirdness was getting stale, and the crowd (including this reviewer) wasn't "feeling" the music and the performance. Truth be told - the performance even put SouthSide's "date" to sleep. The shock value could only go so far for Blackburner, blogspot readers, that they would have been more suited for a place like Neo and/or an event like Nocturna. Someone even posted on Ministry's Facebook page about the opening performance stating he or she hopes Ministry had a better opening act for their Friday night performance. One this is for sure, blogspot readers, the Ministry fanbase here tonight was going to be tough to please.
Not only tough but very, VERY impatient for their heroes to appear on stage. Tension was running high amongst the balcony as well as the main floor, blogspot readers, while the Ministry crew quickly set up the stage for the band. Excitement was at an all time high especially for both SouthSide and Shawn - this was our first Ministry concert. You could also hear the excitement from the many screams and hollering surrounding us (even through ear plugs) until ...darkness falls and up pops Al Jourgensen opening the show with a soliloquy about how you're worth more dead than alive to lead into the song - Ghouldiggers which featured a video to accompany it. Throughout Ministry's performance (which included two encores for a total of 19 songs), there was a video attached to each song performed to give a better understanding of the band's music as well as lyrics if not familiar with the "new" Ministry sound and look. SouthSide liked how Al and the band poked fun at Bush, Cheney and Powell (during No W) or protested our greed and need for oil from the Middle East and big oil coporations (in Rio Grande Blood that featured plenty of footage from Iraq "war"). As you see, blogspot readers, Ministry has taken a stance these days to enlighten the masses about what's happening in the world via their songs where it's mainly anti-something (i.e. religion, government, corporations, Wall Street, et al). And this truly delighted the crowd.
After Senor Peligro, the crowd on the main floor was becoming agitated from the central theme heard within the tense yet hardcore industrial metal rock sound as heard in Lies and then 99 Percenters - about how Ministry hates Wall Street ...could say it's the unofficial official anthem of the 99% and Occupy movement. Between observing the band and crowd, SouthSide can honestly say that the majority do share Ministry's hardline political point of view. It's quite obvious that this band speaks to a generation that's disenfranchised by the set establishment or by how, for example, there are more "eyes in the skies" (Watch Yourself) or how violence still begets violence even if it's meant to bring peace (Life Is Good - that featured morbidly disturbing video images of people getting blown away by bullets ...this particular video made SouthSide a little squeamish). By this time, mini mosh pit riots were forming on the main floor while in the balcony the audience up here were beginning to revolt to fist pump and head bang to the harsh guitar riffs and wild industrial keyboard rhythms (which you sometimes couldn't hear above the rock side of Ministry). The performance ended with Kybher Pass to which this reviewer enjoyed the strange melodic guitar riff floating in between the pounding percussion in this metal song and the video accompanying it displayed images of Usama Bin Laden and 9/11 on the screen.
During the first encore, with the crowd already agitated and pumped, Pslam 69 and N.W.O. truly had things exploding into wild pandemonium - moshing and slam dancing ...ice and/or cups being tossed from the balcony. However it wouldn't be safe for long in the balcony either, blogspot readers. If Ministry wanted to cause a near riot during their first of two shows, then they certainly accomplished that and more inside Vic Theatre. The band even took a quick minute or two for what they called a "pot" break before finally ending the show with United Forces. According to Shawn, Al had to be carried off stage by his own security team just to end the show. "...holy shit that was good! You know it was good when you get carried off stage..." Shawn also stated saying it was an awesome show but the lead singer (Al) was shitty. It's a fair enough assessment, blogspot readers. And SouthSide concurs - the Ministry show was awesome ...full of that space cadet glow for this reviewer. She enjoyed the symbolism and political (as well as personal) pov presented in each song to the music that sent chills down her spine from the guitar riffs and industrial sound. Then there's the legion of Ministry fans - young and old who were observed rockin' out to their favorite songs.
If you haven't experienced a Ministry show, SouthSide highly recommends that you do. For more information, visit Ministry at http://www.ministrymusic.org/.
Until next time, support your local scene,