Corrosion of Conformity/Crowbar - Live in Grand Rapids (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Corrosion of Conformity / Crowbar

Live in Grand Rapids (2019)

live show

I really am getting to be an old fuck. So many of the bands that I care about have been around for 30 or more years. Case in point, Corrosion of Conformity and Crowbar at Elevation in downtown Grand Rapids on Thursday, August 1st. COC started out in Raleigh, North Carolina way back in 1982. Their members and musical styles have changed a lot over the years, but the current incarnation is the one that found the most success. The Pepper Keenan/Mike Dean/Woody Weatherman/Reed Mullin lineup had a gold record with Deliverance in 1994, which was somehow a quarter century ago. “Clean My Wounds” and “Albatross” were even rock radio staples. Despite a new album last year, COC was touring to celebrate that now classic album’s 25th anniversary.

By comparison, Crowbar was founded in New Orleans in 1990, a mere 29 years ago! They also found their greatest success in the early ‘90s when their videos were played on the MTV phenomenon that was Beavis and Butt-Head. Guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Kirk Windstein has been the sole constant member, but OG bassist Todd Strange also recently returned to the fold. Over the years, Windstein has used a ton of different top notch New Orleans musicians for touring and recording purposes. The heavy scene in NO has always seemed pretty incestuous, with bands frequently sharing and/or trading members.

This was, I think, my 4th time seeing COC since Keenan rejoined the fold in 2014. Last year they played a last minute show in a smaller room with local support. This time around, in addition to Crowbar, they brought openers Quaker City Night Hawks (sounds like a local minor league baseball team) and Lo-Pan. I knew it was going to be a long night, so I opted to skip the first two bands to meet up with an old friend and do some record shopping. We didn’t show up quite late enough, and saw the last couple of songs by QCNH. They sounded like a cross between the Allman Brothers and Black Sabbath. The singer wore a hat that looked like a prop from a renaissance fair. I couldn’t get into it.

Crowbar was much more to my liking, and I enjoyed their 40 plus minute set of crushingly heavy doom and sludge. They played tracks from throughout their nearly 30 year career. The aging metalhead fans definitely seemed to prefer the older stuff, but the newer material was well received too. The truth is, their last couple of records have been great. The crowd was mostly older headbangers, stoners and bikers, but there were a few surprisingly normal looking people too. They looked like they got lost on the way to Home Depot or something. Everyone in Crowbar, with the exception of Windstein, was young. Todd Strange, who is impossible to miss, was conspicuously absent.

Speaking of conspicuously absent, Reed Mullin was not playing drums for Corrosion of Conformity. Toward the end of the set, Keenan introduced all the members, but offered no explanation. Whoever was filling in did a fine job, and I’m sure most people didn’t notice if they weren’t looking for Mullin’s long blond hair. The other three guys still sport the long hair that defined an earlier era. Most of the songs were from that other era too. They didn’t play a single song from last year’s very solid No Cross No Crown. Not surprisingly, Deliverance was best represented with six songs. These were the crowd favorites. There were also tracks from Blind (1991), Wiseblood (1996), America’s Volume Dealer (2000) and the criminally underrated In the Arms of God (2005).

Pepper and the guys really seemed to relish revisiting these songs, and maybe more importantly, they genuinely seemed to appreciate the support of longtime fans. Keenan said as much, and I believe him. Pepper plays the part of energetic frontman well. Weatherman always had a smile on his face, while Dean seems to be grooving along in his own little world. They left the stage after 75 minutes or so, and it was quite a few minutes before they returned. (I’m going to guess it was the exact amount of time it takes to smoke a joint or two.) They finished up by treating fans to an extended version of their biggest hit, “Clean My Wounds”. It was a satisfying ending to a solid night of entertainment for this old fuck.

Confessions of a merch whore: I actually didn’t buy anything at the show. I was most tempted by the cool looking $5 koozies, but ultimately passed. Shopping beforehand, I grabbed the new purple press of Buzzcocks’ masterpiece Singles Going Steady. It might be worth buying for the liner notes alone. I also picked up the 200 gram Drastic Plastic pressing of another personal favorite, Angry Samoans’ classic Back From Samoa.

Corrosion of Conformity setlist:

Seven Days

King of the Rotten

Shake Like You


Heaven’s Not Overflowing


My Grain

Paranoid Opioid

Diablo Blvd.

The Door

Vote With a Bullet


Who’s Got the Fire


Clean My Wounds