The impact of Wax Trax! Records cannot be understated. Without this small, independent Chicago-based record label, dance music as we know it would be a very different entity. To celebrate the record label’s legacy and Industrial music in general (the genre can’t be divorced from the label), Vans threw a special documentary screening of Industrial Accident, speaking panel, and concert, featuring the landmark of the record label, Ministry, playing an old school set at the Teragram Ballroom.
I highly recommend Industrial Accident: The Story of Wax Trax! Records to any fan of rock docs or music films, not only does it give you a very human, personal peek into the label’s history, beginning as a Denver based record store then moving to Chicago and becoming an indie label to be reckoned with but it also introduces you to so much music, from Al Jourgensen’s side projects like Pailhead with Ian Mackaye or all the great European acts that jumped onto Wax Trax! for distribution in the states, from Front 242 to Laibach. The documentary’s protagonists, owners and life partners, Jim Nash and Dannie Flesher, present a heart warming story of love, commitment, fighting against the man (in this case the music industry), being trend setters, and eventually the tragedy of the aids epidemic. The screening was followed by a panel and Q+A featuring Paul Barker, formerly of Ministry and the Revolting Cocks, Groovie Man aka Frankie Nardiello of My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, and the documentary’s director, Julia Nash, Jim’s daughter. The two highlights of the panel were when they defended the current state of industrial scene when one fan claimed it was dead, (Thrill Kill Kult having just released a new album) and when the panel agreed that Al Jourgensen showing distaste for his Wax Trax era music was bullshit.
Once the panel was over, the concert began and we were all treated to Cold Cave, which with the the Teragram’s sound system sounded immaculate and darker than any time I had seen them previously. The true essence of a band’s music always comes across at Teragram and in Cold Cave’s case, you really felt the danceable darkness and sorrow.
I’m not sure if it was the venue, the significance of the event, or the setlist, but this was definitely the best time I have ever seen Ministry live. The music was more riveting and insane than ever, you could hear the chug of the guitars hitting you like pistons pumping in an engine then the keyboards underneath it all making your feet move and shuffle to dance in Wax Trax! fashion. The set included rarities like “Jesus Built My Hotrod” and “Burning Inside” with plenty of tips to the hat to band’s seminal, game-changing album, The Land of Rape and Honey, which celebrated its 30 year anniversary last year. With an encore featuring an acoustic version of “Everyday is Halloween” the concert closed on a note that took the audience from Ministry’s present all the way to the moment they broke ground at the hands of this tiny record label that could, Wax Trax! The pride and joy of Chicago.
Words by: Rob Shepyer
Photos by: Abraham Preciado