Ministry and Death Grips are the best post-industrial pairing you never knew you wanted. Both outfits have released an absurd number of albums, both color outside any conventional genre guidelines and both routinely decimate crowds at live shows. Really: if you’re under 200 lbs, stick to the periphery of the dance floor or ascend to the balcony. Their recent fall co-headlining tour was batshit fun by any definition, and Paste saw it firsthand at the Roseland Theater in Portland earlier this month.
Death Grips took the stage first, bathed in near darkness save a few indigo and blue lights. The hip-hop/industrial trio’s 23-song set walked through their non-instrumental discography, hitting the concussive depths of debut Exmilitary with “Takyon (Death Yon)” and “Guillotine” before tackling the inflamed breakbeats of “Giving Bad People Good Ideas” off last year’s Bottomless Pit and punctuated cuts from the 23-minute “Steroids (Crouching Tiger Hidden Gabber)” mix. Stefan Burnett rhymes like a boxer; the shirtless MC’s flow hits peaks and valleys that accommodate the abrasive song structure laid by drummer Zach Hill and producer Andy Morin. “Get Got” is a respiratory gauntlet of ricocheting lyrics, accelerated to match warbles of synth and high-hat patters. Early in DG tours, Hill hammered on a cymbal-less set of tom-toms and bass drums, but he’s since utilized a full set in harmony with the synthesized beats tweaked and modulated by Morin. The resulting mix is calculated anarchy; the crowd throbs and swells along with the shrapnel samples and Brunett’s staccato delivery.
Ministry completed the night, with ringmaster Al Jourgensen volleying through a curated tour of a career that started in the early ‘80s. The industrial godfather has followed a mercurial path; 1983’s With Sympathy was pure synth pop, designed for dancing and uppers. The next two efforts played with harsher textures until ‘89s The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste confirmed a brutal cacophony of lawn-mower distorted guitars set against samples and drum loops. The song structures still adhere to the winding, trance drones of electronica, with tracks rarely running under four minutes. Live, Jourgensen laces early, transitional works—“Thieves,” “So What”—among more streamlined metal tracks. Rio Grande Blood standouts “Lies Lies Lies” and the title track offered some of the most brutal excursions. The latter witnessed a berserker fan crowd surf to the photo pit and attempt to scramble on stage, restrained by three security guards. Throughout the set, Jourgensen was what could only be described as wiley, darting around the stage and mocking the Trump administration by goose stepping around inflatable chickens emblazoned swastikas and the commander-in-chief’s unmistakable haircut.
If ever a tour looked and sounded like an army of middle fingers erected in marching formulation, it was this joint excursion. Check out pictures from the evening in the gallery above.
Song Highlights, Death Grips
“Takyon (Death Yon)”
Song Highlights, Ministry
“Lies Lies Lies”
“Just One Fix”