House of Vans // Chicago, IL // April 13, 2019
Ministry helped celebrate an awesome part of Chicago history.
If you know anything about industrial music, you know that Wax Trax! Records was a crucial staple to keeping the genre alive in the 70s and 80s. Boasting bands like KMFDM, Ministry, and Front 242, the Chicago-based record store and label helped launch the careers of tons of industrial and metal artists. Unfortunately, even Al Jourgensen and his many side projects couldn’t keep Wax Trax! afloat, and the founders Jim Nash and Dannie Flesher filed for bankruptcy in 1992. Both Nash and Flesher, business and personal partners for decades, have since passed away, but Nash’s daughter has since revived the label. In celebration of all that Wax Trax! has done for industrial music, House of Vans hosted a screening of the documentary Industrial Accident: The Story of Wax Trax! Records with performances from Cold Caves and Ministry themselves.
House of Vans has been one of my favorite venues since it opened in early 2017. Every show is free and is always accompanied by free beer (usually from Goose Island), food trucks, and of course, stellar music performances. What was particularly awesome about this show was the age range of fans. While it was a 21+ show, most people seemed to be well into their 30s if not older, but they were screaming and crowd surfing right alongside their college-aged counterparts. Ministry have been a staple Chicago band since 1981, with vocalist Al Jourgenson being the only constant member since their inception. When they came onstage, cloaked in a massive sea of fog and moody lighting, the room erupted in cheers and screams.
“We’re gonna play some old shit if that’s cool with you guys”, Jourgenson said, knowing full well that’s what everyone came for. Ministry played songs they haven’t played in literal decades, including a cover of Revolting Cocks’ cover “No Devotion” with former band member and Chicago fave Chris Connelly. They hadn’t played this song since 1988, the year I was born. Pulling out other favorites like “Stigmata”, “The Land of Rape and Honey”, and “Jesus Built My Hotrod”, the entire evening was a nostalgic masterpiece. I’m certainly biased, but anything that celebrates Chicago and our music scene is a win in my book. This was a Record Store Day event that I can definitely say sets a precedent for future RSD shows. Take note, 2020.