As I write this review, I can just faintly hear the clacking of the keys as I type. I can just barely make out the thoughts in my head over the ringing in my ears. Of course, I was fresh out of one of the wildest concerts I have ever been to—a co-headliner of experimental hip hop act Death Grips and industrial metal titans Ministry at the Electric Factory in Philly. On the surface, they seem like an unlikely pairing. However, their performances complemented each other to near perfection.
The first act to perform was Death Grips. The experimental trio hailing from Sacramento have been making harsh, abrasive noise rap ever since the turn of the decade. However, their body of work cannot and will not prepare one for the experience of seeing them live. The envelope-pushing catalog sounds tame to the actual performance.
The group began with “Lock Your Doors,” an older song of theirs, and the crowd went nuts. The audience was packed into the venue like sardines, and they made a valiant effort to start a mosh pit. The attempt turned into a tightly compact, flowing wave of concertgoers, of which I was in the middle, feeling my lungs collapse all the while. I retreated to a far corner of the venue to recover and enjoy the music. And enjoy it I did. The group played every song I could have wanted them to play, everything from essentials such as “Takyon,” “Guillotine” and “I’ve Seen Footage,” to lesser known tracks such as “Double Helix” and “Say Hey Kid,” their setlist spanning all of their albums.
The group played these songs with the amount of energy one would expect from a group of their abrasion. Drummer Zach Hill went nuts behind his kit, much of his performance being a sweaty, adrenaline-driven improv session. Rapper MC Ride delivered a full throttle performance, perfectly pairing with the disastrous content of his lyrics.
All the while, the band was adorned in strobe light garments, giving the entire experience just one extra bump of urgency. One aspect that I did not expect about their performance was the volume—it was rather quiet for a band of their intensity. However, that was made up for in spades once Ministry took the stage.
Ministry, the synthpop-turned-metal outfit of 30+ years, gave a knockout performance—one that was a perfect follow-up to Death Grips. An absolute no brainer, Death Grips teased the audience with levels of volume and relentlessness that prepared them for what was to come. Ministry played mostly newer material, songs off of albums that came out in the past 10 years or so.
However, once they headed towards classic territory, that was when hardcore fans came out of the woodwork to tear the place up. For a band that is 30 years strong, they certainly sound it. They were unbelievably tight, and did not hold back one bit in their performance of their older material. Songs like “N.W.O.” and “Just One Fix” had attendees going berserk in the pit. Luckily, all the Death Grips-only fans had filed out at that point, so it was a much more tolerable experience this time around. The group did a surprise cover of “Gates of Steel” by Devo, which largely alienated all the metalheads in the room. No moshing for that song. They made that song into their own, crafting a version that sounded completely removed from the original. Surrounding the group were two inflated chickens designed to look like and mock President Trump. Behind the band were visuals that mocked President Trump in various different ways, and even in their music they appear to take direct stabs at the President. They performed their new song “Antifa” with the utmost in temerity and bite, with lead singer Al Jourgensen proclaiming, “We are not snowflakes / We are the Antifa!”
Overall, the concert left my hearing and my train of thought in shambles. It was such an unbelievable double experience, I nearly cried at simply how good it was. Not often do bands of this level of intensity come along, and these two acts turned that intensity into a buildup of Biblical proportions. If either of these bands make their way around town again, I highly suggest you go see them. Your ears will not thank you, but your soul will.
Gabe Sagherian is a student at West Chester University. He can be reached at GS889554@wcupa.edu.