Corrosion Of Conformity - Live in Grand Rapids (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Corrosion Of Conformity

Live in Grand Rapids (2018)

live show

Corrosion Of Conformity had been the middle band on a major tour with Black Label Society headlining and Eyehategod opening. That package was supposed to play in Grand Rapids on Wednesday January 10th. I’m not a BLS fan, but I really wanted to see the first two bands. Ultimately, I was pretty busy and didn’t want to spend the big bucks, so I had decided not to go. Then Zakk Wylde got sick and had to cancel a few shows, including GR. The opening bands were forced to scramble for gigs to make a few bucks. That’s how COC ended up playing the intimate Stache in downtown Grand Rapids on Thursday January 11th. The show was announced one day in advance. I was still busy, but figured I shouldn’t miss it.

Due to the last minute nature of the show, tickets were only $10. The only bummer was that EHG wasn’t on the bill. My brother was able to join me at the last minute, so we headed out for a couple of beers and a little adventure. In some ways, the timing was perfect. I had been fully immersed in the new COC album No Cross No Crown, because I’d been reviewing it. I’d actually been listening to the whole Pepper Keenan era discography. Likewise, I’d been spending a fair amount of time listening to one of the local openers. I’d also been reviewing The Holy Warheads’ new EP Gravity. The first band to play was Drink Their Blood from nearby Kalamazoo. We missed them entirely.

A prior commitment kept me from being on time, so when we finally got there The Holy Warheads were halfway through their half hour set. There was also already a full house. I’m sure the 500 or so capacity room ended up selling out. It was pretty impressive for such short notice. The Holy Warheads got to play for large, enthusiastic audience, the type that local bands dream about. They seemed to make the most of their opportunity, and I suspect they won a bunch of new fans. Their progressive, political and cerebral hard rock was a good fit for this bill. I was happy because I was able to hear “Gallows”, my favorite track from the new EP.

Corrosion hit the stage about 9:10. When I say hit the stage, I mean that they started out slowly with the long, meandering jam of “Bottom Feeder (El Que Come Abajo)”. Then they went to the lumbering “The Luddite”, the first proper song on No Cross No Crown. Keenan talked a bit about being excited for the new album, but that was the only song they played from it. They played five from Deliverance, three from Wiseblood and two from America’s Volume Dealer. The excellent and underrated In the Arms of God was represented by a single track, “Paranoid Opioid”. The lone oldie was “Vote with a Bullet” from Blind. It was introduced as a song they wrote a long time ago that has come full circle.

Pepper Keenan is an undeniably entertaining frontman, but he might be the least interesting man in the band to watch. Guitarist Woody Weatherman bounces around like a big kid, and seems genuinely happy to be there. Drummer Reed Mullin is not far behind in the enthusiasm department, and is usually singing along. Bassist Mike Dean always seems lost in his own groove. He only occasionally looks up to add some backing vocals. I kept running into people I know at the show, so I ended up having a few of those really loud conversations where you can barely hear each other. There was a lot of smiling and nodding, and I feel like I might have missed a few show details.

Keenan introduced regular set closer “Albatross” as “a song about getting high, but not too high”. There seemed to be plenty of good feelings going around. While I did not partake, the smell of pot smoke in the small, two hole bathroom just about burned my eyes. After a quick break, the band returned for an extended jam of “Clean My Wounds”. The ten minute epic slows down the middle section with a bass riff reminiscent of Ted Nugent’s “Stranglehold” before speeding up again to finish. I probably would have preferred a few more songs over the two extended jams, but Corrosion Of Conformity are stoners, and stoners are going to jam. Still, it was an enjoyable 70 plus minute set.

Confessions of a merch whore: I picked up a copy of No Cross No Crown signed by all four members. It was extra cool because the album wasn’t officially out until the next day. I didn’t ask for a signed copy per say, but that’s what they had. I also got a classic COC logo patch. I’m definitely used to punk show prices, because I suffered a bit of sticker shock. I won’t tell you what I paid, but it was probably close to double what I could have got them for elsewhere. Oh well, COC needs to eat too.