Ministry w/ Chelsea Wolfe and the God Bombs (neither of whom I saw), Huntington, NY
The Paramount, April 19, 2018
Ed. note– On occasion, I write reviews for the Criminally Insane section of the sight that fall a little outside DE’s norm. I refer to them as “beyond fright” pieces. Well, Ministry falls way outside the norm, and I’m not just talking about DE’s norm. So I proudly christen this concert review DE’s first “beyond thrash” piece. And one more thing: it’s a damn shame it’s way too late for me to do even a retro review of that KMFDM concert I attended in 1997. This one’s for Sarah Fasso, my sister, occasional partner in crime, and favorite person in the world to hang out with.– P.F.
A New World Order of Concert going
Going to concerts on a whim and checking new stuff out has worked out well for me lately. So when I saw Minstry was playing the Paramount on Long Island and remembered Sarah liked them, cheap tickets made it a lock. I’ve never seen Ministry live before, and hadn’t been to an industrial concert since 2009, so this would be a step outside my current thrash tendencies, and I hoped would be fun.
To say seeing Ministry was something else just might be the biggest understatement I’ve ever made.
Opening Acts… Ummm, No
This is where I’d usually write about the opening acts in a concert report. But with this show, Chelsea Wolfe? The God Bombs? Ummm, no. Not at all. Not even close. Not if you paid for my tickets and bought me a beer. Sarah doesn’t like watching opening acts, and I had no desire to rush from Queens to see these acts. In fact, it was originally only supposed to be Wolfe, until I got an email from TicketMaster two days prior telling me the show had added the God Bombs. Which somehow did not sway me to jump in on the opening acts. So if you’re looking for commentary on those bands, you’ll have to read elsewhere.
A Quick Ride, Perfect Parking, and the Non-GA Tix that Became GA Tix
Without factoring in the opening acts, Sarah and I left my dad’s house in plenty of time to get to the Paramount. That’s factoring in the time it took to rush back from the gas station down the block back to dad’s to pick up my forgotten cell phone. Sarah’s Google Maps took her on a different route than the usual, which we thought would take much longer, but actually ended cutting time off the trip. We figured the biggest challenge would be to find parking as we were coming so late, but as we crossed New York Avenue right alongside the Paramount, the third paid parking spot up the block was open. We made our way in, without any sort of line, and hit what should have been a dilemma. I bought the Skybar tickets, which were the cheapest of the lot and saved me over $30 across the two tix. But somehow we couldn’t find the Skybar. Which was fine, because the staff let us walk right into General Admission. To sum it up, we’d missed the opening acts we didn’t want to see, found a quicker path to the show, landed a prime parking spot almost right next to the club, and got a better place to check out the show, without me having to pay extra. Sweet!
Industrial Harmonicas, Weird Mic Stands and Al Jourgensen
Ministry finally hit the stage and it was quite the sight to behold. A keyboardist wore glasses with neon letters scrolling across the lenses; one guitarist sported a bandito kerchief over the lower half of his face, and the other wore a V for Vendetta mask. But these guys were just baubles compared to Al Jourgensen. As the king freak hit the stage, spouting anti-administration diatribe in his raspy voice, the sparse crowd came to life. He wasn’t using his mouth solely to sing, as midway through the opening song he wailed away on a harmonica. Yes, Al Jourgensen found a way to incorporate a harmonica into industrial music. Later on, he’d play a mandolin guitar and shout lyrics through a megaphone into his microphone. This was either some of the most idiotic or the most innovative stuff I’ve ever seen, and I came to the conclusion that I was witnessing brilliant trash.
One point of interest was Burton C. Bell. I’m not a big Fear Factory guy, but they’re an established outfit and it was quite a surprise to see Bell belting out a handful of tunes alongside Jourgensen. That he’s a much better singer than Jourgensen amuses me, as he outsang Al in Al’s own band. Another point of interest was how no mosh pit ever developed. Coming from thrash, I expected a pit to break out early and for lots of slamming. Industrial metal is metal, after all, and a lot of the guitar work would’ve been right at home in a thrash show. During the last few songs a baby pit formed, with some arm flailing and a dash of slam dancing, but no real heavy action. That disappoints me, even if I’m not sure why.
As for the music itself, it didn’t sound any better live than it did on those albums I’d played on my phone earlier. Ministry is disposable trash, and their tunes are far from my cup of industrial tea. But the show itself was fun, and that was all that mattered. It gave me an opportunity to hang out with Sarah, to drink a few Heinekens, and to plant a flag in my history that reads, “I saw Ministry live on this date.” It also gave me my first chance to see a double mic stand so ornate that it was hard to see Jourgensen behind it.
And it gave my sister a historic reunion. Which is how I’ll always remember it.
Sarah’s Crew Rolls Deep
Sarah has a way of seeing someone she knows at every concert we attend together. Some of it is the music she listens to, but a bigger part of it karma playing itself out live shows for her. For the first three or four songs she didn’t bump into anybody she knew, but I kept history in the back of my mind as I headbanged along to the tunes. Out of the blue, Sarah seemed happily shocked as two guys engaged her in conversation. I was so wrapped up in the show aspect of the show, that I didn’t notice for at least a minute that she had finally bumped into people she knew. And this time, they were people I knew.
I hadn’t seen my sister’s friends Sean and Eddie in over 20 years. The last time I saw Sean as at that KMFDM concert at the Roseland back in 1997, and the last time I saw Eddie was even before that. Right in front of me, Sarah was talking to both of them. Memories flushed into my head, and I wasn’t even tight with these guys, so I can’t even imagine what a blast from the past this must’ve been for Sarah. I ended up holding beers at one point so everybody could hug, and suddenly the meaning I decided to get tickets to Ministry became clear to me: so my sister could reunite with her crew. If only for a short while, it was something special in the middle of a Ministry show, of all places. Sarah’s friend Rick was also there, as well as friend Nichole from high school. The four of them scurried deeper into the crowd toward the stage, as Sarah and I hung back and discussed how weird this was for us to meet them here.
Toward the end of the show, Sarah’s nostalgia caught up with her and we made our way through the crowd so we could hang with her crew. For those last few songs, my sister must’ve felt like it was high school all over again. Given how I felt hanging out with Fasano this February at Mad Monster Party for three days, I can attest it’s a sweet high while it lasts. I was grateful to be able to capture the memory on film.
As we left the show and Sarah drove me home, I knew I’d had another great night with my sister. I will go anywhere and do anything with her, because she makes everything fun. She’s my favorite person to hang out with, and even though Ministry was no great shakes live, they gave me the chance to hang out with her, and for her to maybe relive just a little bit of her youth. And that’s not a bad thing, even if those opening acts I missed likely were.