Corrosion of Conformity live at Gramercy Theatre 12/4/15

This was a last minute thing for me.  I totally wasn’t expecting to go to this because I had somewhere to be the next day but all I can tell you was it was so fucking worth it.  I was amazed I was even able to get tickets because according to my girlfriend the show was very close to selling out, which did surprise me just a bit.  I mean, Pepper Keenan hasn’t done shit with Corrosion of Conformity in a decade and the band went on without him for a few years as a three piece hardcore band for the first time since their 1985 album Animosity.

When I think of Corrosion as a band I can’t help but think of that swinger couple that lets it get out hand for far longer than usual.  Mike Dean left the band after 1987’s Technocracy EP and didn’t come back until the year before the band made 1994’s Deliverance.  Reed Mullin left after 2000’s America’s Volume Dealer, only to come back in 2010, just in time for him, Woody Weatherman and Mike to go back out as a three piece.  And then there’s Pepper.  Oh, Pepper…this guy is without a doubt THE biggest WHORE in this relationship.  After the band’s last studio album with him, 2005’s In The Arms of God, he basically ditched his jilted lovers for Down along with ex-Pantera singer and childhood friend Phil Anselmo so he could jerk off to slugde metal on record.  Together they made one GREAT comeback album, followed by two not so great EPs.

But in this swinging relationship, man do things swing in both directions because this year Pepper finally returned, seemingly getting it all out of his system and here we are.  They recently signed a new deal with Nuclear Blast Records and they plan to make a new record next year.  And judging by the assault on my ears a few nights ago I’m convinced the wait will be worth it.

After I bought my tickets I went out for a bit, but upon going back to the building I found Mike Dean outside the building having a cigarette.  Drugs are bad, mmmkay?  Because this motherfucker, as amazing a bassist as he is, looks like Doc Brown on meth.  I went up to him to introduce myself.  He shook my hand and even said hi but, with his looking around at everything but me, I figured he just wanted to be left alone so I let him be.

I sat on the ground for a few minutes when Pepper came out for a cigarette.  He had cowboy boots on with his worn leather jacket.  His face?  Aged like a motherfucker, but then again, if I was childhood friends with someone like Phil Anselmo I’d age badly myself!  I said “what’s up bro?” to him and he was about to shake my hand before we were rudely interrupted by these two tramps who bragged to Pepper that “we came ALL the way from New Jersey just to see you!”.  Oooh wow, you came from across the fucking Hudson River??!!?!?!  WOW!!!!  Did you swim across the river?  Because THAT would’ve been impressive!

While these two fuckheads where doing their thing Pepper quickly turned to shake my hand before something else happened.  We shared some small talk, nothing major, nothing long.  I asked him if bitches annoy you like that often, “Sometimes…”, he said in his Louisiana drawl.  I then asked him if he was enjoying playing out with the guys again. “Yeah man, I’m having a blast.”, he said before being warned by this drunken Brooklyn buffoon waiting on line to hide his beer in his jacket because the NYPD are hardasses with nothing better to do.  As much as I thought the buffoon was annoying with his drunken bellowing about seeing Savatage while high I couldn’t help but echo back his warning to Pepper.

After my girlfriend arrived we went on line and were able to grab a seat to the right of the mixing board.  On tonight’s bill alongside Corrosion were Mothership, Saviours and Brent Bjork and The Low Desert Punk Band.  I also declared this night the Orange Amplifiers Apocalypse.  What’s with stoner bands and their fixation on Orange Amps?  Did they not get the memo that the only reason Tony Iommi used an Orange Amp in that televised German performance on Beat-Club was because it belonged to the TV studio?  Not too long after I noticed Jimmy and Peter Pallis of Anaka up front we were taken by surprise by this sudden fucking screeching amp feedback.  As my ears were getting fucked up the projection screen on stage went up and there was Mothership.

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Now…I’m still not sure a week later how I feel about this band.  There is no doubt in mind of their musical direction: not too heavy, aggressive enough.  There’s no question in my mind that Kelley Juett played his fucking ass off throughout Mothership’s entire set.  Very good guitar player with a very good amp tone as well.  I wasn’t too surprised to hear them play Led Zeppelin’s “heartbreaker”.  I felt like something was missing though.  What exactly?  Not sure…maybe it’s sounded to early 70’s hard rockfish for my tastes.  I don’t hate Mothership…just not sure what to think.

Next up was Saviours.

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Geez…Austin Barber and Kelley Juett sure do look alike!  The guy sitting next me and I were sure that it was the same guy in two bands.  Aside for that this band to me are what Mothership maybe should’ve been.  They were definitely edgier, heavier, more badass solos, more badass riffing, more badass everything while keeping it in a sludge/stoner context.  Imagine a mix of High on Fire if Matt Pike hired a second guitarist and they played Iron Maiden style harmonies.

Brent Bjork and The Low Desert Punk Band should go into a room with the surviving members of The Grateful Dead, suck each other off and then go kill themselves in a suicide pact with all of them shooting themselves in the fucking mouth.

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This is exactly why I HATE jam bands so fucking much.  Stupid name: check.  Unnecessarily long jams: check.  Shitty songs to be jamming out to: check.  But forget all that for a second.  What the fuck are they doing on a bill with bands they sound nothing like??

They finally showed us mercy but getting the fuck off the stage around 10pm.  The real fun began a half an hour later:

The last time I saw Corrosion of Conformity over ten years ago opening up for Motorhead they sounded damn good; but on this night they sounded absolutely fucking brutal.  They all came off as completely re-energized – especially Pepper.  His voice was real strong here, full of energy, as if he really was happy to be back with the guys.  I was so pumped!  After “Broken Man” they went right into “Paranoid Opioid” and I dare say this time around it sounded better than the album version.  They broke into a lot of tracks spanning their entire Pepper-era run between 1991 and 2005, including “Vote With A Bullet”, my girlfriend’s personal favorite, as well as “Albatross”, which Pepper personally dedicated to Mothership.  Why?  “Because they owe me a lot of money.”, he declared on the mic.

Before the show ended for good Pepper said he was dedicating the last song to the Eagles of Death Metal as a result of the Paris attacks where a few of their own crew members were killed in the Bataclan while the band was on stage.  Scary shit.  The song?  “Clean My Wounds”.  Gee Pepper, thanks for showing me that I’ve been playing the riff wrong all these years.  Fucker.  After the guitar solo the band broke it down into a reggae groove that lasted nearly ten minutes and showed off how great a bassist Mike Dean really is.  Reed Mullin?  Absolutely underrated as a drummer, he truly has come such a long way in thirty years.  After nearly ten minutes the band jumped right back into the song’s original groove before calling it a night.

This was an absolutely brutal, incredible show and I’m happy to say that it did in fact sell out half way into the night.  I’ll be first in line to buy their new CD when it comes out.  This is my last concert for the year until Black Sabbath in February unless I get tickets to see Lamb of God in January with support from Power Trip and Anthrax.

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