By Velvet Devoe and Shannon Claire
Photos by Shannon Claire

April 9, 2018

Ministry performs at The Bourbon Theatre in Lincoln, Neb., on April 4, 2018. Shannon Claire/KZUM.

Ministry returned to Lincoln for the first time since 2004 at The Bourbon Theatre Thursday night. Along with supporting act, Chelsea Wolfe, Ministry is touring to promote their newly released record, Amerikkkant.

Chelsea Wolfe
By Shannon Claire

The hardy crowd at The Bourbon Thursday night welcomed doom metal songstress Chelsea Wolfe for the artist’s first performance in Lincoln. Overhearing more concert goers than not stating they were there for and eager to catch Wolfe’s act was not only surprisingly pleasant to hear, but assurance for an attentive crowd.

Chelsea Wolfe performs at The Bourbon Theatre in Lincoln, Neb., on April 5, 2018. Shannon Claire/KZUM.

Attentive they were. Wolfe’s howling vocals and weeping guitar, supported by the manic fluidity of her bandmates, left the full house of concert goers at The Bourbon captivated throughout the duration of their set. Backed by guitarist Bryan Tulao, Wolfe and Tulao dance with and around each other instrumentally. Ben Chisholm, Wolfe’s cohort aka production partner in crime, was no short of perfection multi tasking between keys, bass and electrics, as well as longtime hometown friend and drummer Jess Gowrie. Both Gowrie and Chisholm relationship with Wolfe span decades and are palpable in Wolfe’s conceptual makeup, especially on her most recent album, Hiss Spun.

Wolfe’s discography spans almost 10 years with six studio albums produced, and bits and pieces of them were scattered throughout her set that night. Hearing personal favorites such as “Demons” from her 2011 album Apokalypsis and “After The Fall” off of  Abyss (2015), to crowd favorite “Feral Love” released in 2013 on Pain is Beauty. These three tracks alone stood out to showcase the array of sounds that come with Chelsea Wolfe. Where these songs contrast each other from prog rock to folk industrial and goth pop, are yet greatly savored with and deeply rooted in the sounds of doom metal. Wolfe also performed tracks off her most recent album Hiss Spun like “16” Psyche, another crowd favorite.

Wolfe is looking to expand her loyal fan base this year, hence the opportunity and current tour with Ministry. Speaking with Wolfe on X-Rated: Women in Music last week, her and Ministry crossed paths last year in France at the annual festival Hellfest, and later discovered that Ministry was looking for tour support in 2018. This tour takes them both all over the US this month landing in Austin, TX on April 28. Wolfe and Ministry will also tour together this summer in Europe.

To learn more about Chelsea Wolfe, the making of her recent album Hiss Spun, and if she prefers Doc Martens to Mary Janes, listen to the podcast interview below.

By Velvet Devoe

Cutting their first record as a Chicago-based synth-pop band, 1983’s With Sympathy began a long journey for a group that has gone through a few musical phases before eventually settling on the brutal industrial metal sounds that define them to this day. For my taste, I love everything from With Sympathy to Psalm 69, or 1983-1992.

Ministry shows do not shy away from politics. In “ANTIFA (Amerikkkant),” Jourgensen proclaims “Right wing is in free fall. Skinheads taking a dive. Antifa is coming for you, They won’t survive.” On, “So What” (from 1999’s A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste), the crowd raged in unison, “Destroy us, or make us saints. We don’t care, it’s not our fault that we were born too late”.

Ministry performs at The Bourbon Theatre in Lincoln, Neb., on April 5, 2018. Shannon Claire/KZUM.

Since longtime collaborator Paul Barker left the group a few years back, Al Jourgansen brings Ministry to life with the help of some older and newer friends, including members of Fear Factory, Slipknot, Beck and The Crystal Method. Weird, but good. Fun fact: the synth player, John Bechdel’s sister is the cartoonist and author, Allison Bechdel, the woman responsible for the Bechdel test – look it up.

Amerikkkant was played in near entirety. Only two songs, “Game Over” and “Amerikkkant” were left off the setlist that I nabbed from one of the red and black, flag-waving ANTIFA-styled crew members. In addition to the new album, the crowd moshed to jams from Rio Grande Blood, From Beer To Enternity, Psalm 69, A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste and Dark Side of the Spoon. Halfway into the set, after a particularly harsh rendition of “Rio Grande Blood”, Jourgensen exclaims, “Fuckin’ Lincoln! I guess you guys like to party or some shit. It’s alright with us!” The Crowd goes absolutely nuts. Seeing Al smile, truly grateful at his reception, was the highlight of my night.

A band like Ministry has a more meaningful purpose that is lost on many. Not too deep within the walls of aggro palm-muting and skull and spine mic stand accessories, are messages of compassion for the oppressed, sympathy for the depressed and an outlet for the stressed.

Say what you will about Ministry, they let you know where they stand politically (fight the power!), on merchandise sales (price high and pray!) and on harmonica solos, (exquisitely  bizarre.) Keep coming’ back, boys.

[slickr-flickr tag="miniwolfe2018" captions="on"] View photos on KZUM's Flickr.

Velvet Devoe hosts “Everything’s Gone Green” on KZUM every Monday, 10 p.m.-midnight. Shannon Claire hosts “X-Rated: Women in Music” every Thursday from 1:30 to 3 p.m.