In case you missed it on Saturday, April 13th (AKA: Record Store Day), the House of Vans in the West Loop neighborhood of Chicago presented a screening of Industrial Accident: The Story of Wax Trax! Records along with a panel discussion with a Q&A, a pop-up shop of the label’s merchandise, and solid live performances from industrial legends Ministry and opening support Cold Cave.
There was limited run of VIP tickets for the screening of the film which were available for free with the purchase of the soundtrack of the film at six different select record stores around Chicago. The urgency was very real. However, what seemed like it was going to be a huge cluster fuck was not in the slightest. You could still RSVP on the day of the show through the House of Vans’ website for general admission to catch the bands.
Jim Nash and Dannie Flesher originally founded the brick and mortar Wax Trax! in Denver, CO. They eventually sold that location and moved to Chicago, re-establishing the store on Clark Street in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood in the late 70s. During the 80s and 90s, the two partners started an industrial & post punk record label of the same name which released music including such artists such as: Ministry, Revolting Cocks, Front 242, Front Line Assembly, My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult, KMFDM, Meat Beat Manifesto, as well as a number of many others. Through several interviews and archived footage, the documentary covers the life of the record store and label, legacy and demise of the scene, and its influence on many contemporary artists. You can purchase a copy of the DVD and Blue Ray here.
There was a panel discussion which followed the screening of the film with Julia Nash – the director of the documentary and daughter of founder Jim Nash, former store employee Sean Joyce, Wax Trax! Records alumni Franke Nardiello (AKA Groovie Mann of My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult), and Chris Connelly (Ministry, Revolting Cocks). There was a short Q&A that followed during which fans got to nerd out and share their experiences and inspirations with the panel while eagerly asking questions and patiently awaiting answers.
Immediately after the panel and Q&A, the venue transformed the movie theater-like seating into an open room for fans who pushed forward to the stage which sat just adjacent to where the crowd had been seated. Twenty minutes later, Cold Cave‘s set ignited the room with a heavy blanket of fog among the crowd. This was my second time catching the band this year. Cold Cave is easily one of my all time favorites. Unfortunately, they had difficulty with the projectors for their set at the beginning which cut their set short. But they still put on a very powerful and beautiful performance.
Ministry closed out the night with a nostalgic variety of songs ranging from their catalog based in the 80s and 90s. They came ripping into “The Missing” followed by “Deity” and “Stigmata” from The Land of Rape and Honey. When the photographers were escorted from the pit, the band started playing what I never thought I would ever hear live in a million years, “Jesus Built My Hotrod.” At that point, the room exploded. I was kind of bummed that I got pushed further to the back of the room.
They followed with “Just One Fix” and “NWO” from Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs and then cut into songs from my all time favorite Ministry album and era, The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste. They played the classic “Thieves” followed by another one that gave me goose bumps, “Burning Inside.” They also played “So What” with Chris Connelly as additional vocalist. It felt like I was hearing them for the first time all over again. I was so fucking stoked to be there in that moment.
The real Wax Trax! nostalgia portion of the set took its turn to the performance of “No Devotion,” a song from Revolting Cocks followed up with the Black Sabbath cover “Supernaut” as it was performed by 1,000 Homo DJ’s, another Wax Trax! alumni super group. They took it full circle to the title track “The Land of Rape and Honey” and gave everyone a very special surprise performance of an Acoustic version of “Everyday is Halloween.”
This was by far one of the most fun Ministry sets I had ever witnessed. It may not have been the dark, new wave synth pop that everyone was hoping to hear and dance to, but I will take what I can get and I got a real Wax Trax! Records experience. This label lives on with everyone who attended this show. Check out the pictures I captured from the show below and be sure to check back for more updates on these artists and so much more.