LIVE PHOTOS: Corrosion of Conformity, Crowbar, The Obsessed, Mothership
Review by Greg Maki
There’s nothing better in music than a good, heavy guitar riff. And this winter, there’s no better place to get all the heavy riffs you want—and more—than Corrosion of Conformity’s U.S. tour, also featuring New Orleans sludge-meisters Crowbar, Texas heavy rockers Mothership and, on the leg of the tour that rolled through Baltimore, doom metal masters The Obsessed.
On a cold Monday night, a crowd of mostly men, mostly in the vicinity of middle age and mostly sporting copious amounts of facial hair, packed the Ottobar, a small, hole-in-the-wall club teeming with old-school, rock ‘n’ roll atmosphere. It’s the kind of place where the walls are plastered with peeling stickers from bands and who knows what else, and one of the support beams holding up the roof is literally at the front of the tiny stage. With no barricade on the floor and a small balcony overhanging stage right, the audience is all but on top of the bands when attendance is high. Calling it “intimate” doesn’t do it justice.
Mothership, featuring brothers Kelley (guitar/vocals) and Kyle (bass/vocals) Juett, plus drummer Judge Smith, kicked off the evening with a much-too-brief 25-minute set. The trio was the most “rock” act of the night but metal enough to get heads banging and fists pumping. I also saw Mothership open for C.O.C. at the same venue about three years ago, and while the C.O.C. fans loved them then, they’ve warmed to them even more since. Mothership could have played for twice as long, and I don’t think anyone in the house would have complained.
Next up, The Obsessed, led by local doom metal legend Scott “Wino” Weinrich, laid down a set of dark, heavy dirges. The nature of the music naturally led to a less energetic performance than what we saw from Mothership, and it seemed to take at least some of the audience some time to adjust to the abrupt transition. But a few songs in, most if not all were onboard, and Wino received a hero’s welcome.
Crowbar’s Kirk Windstein isn’t local—he and the band proudly hail from New Orleans—but he was treated as the biggest star of the night. With a sound mixing doomy riffs, not unlike those of The Obsessed, with the energy and aggression of punk rock, Crowbar was a natural fit on this bill. The unrelenting enthusiasm from the crowd erupted into sporadic mosh pits throughout the set, and Windstein’s tough-guy demeanor—he growls more than talks to the audience between songs—couldn’t hide his obvious delight the entire time he was on stage.
C.O.C., touring in support of last year’s superb “No Cross No Crown” record, closed down the night with a 90-minute set of chunky, Southern-infused metal. Oddly, the set list included only song from the latest album (“Wolf Named Crow”). Of course, the set list was just a suggestion at this show, with guitarist/vocalist Pepper Keenan, guitarist Woody Weatherman, bassist Mike Dean and drummer John Green (filling in for Reed Mullin, as he has for the past year) dipping into the C.O.C. catalog for a few deep cuts and generally playing whatever they felt like playing. If anything, the crowd wanted even more obscure material, with shouts of “deep cut!” heard throughout the night.
Songs from the classic album “Deliverance”—celebrating its 25th anniversary this year; how is that possible?—garnered the biggest responses, with “Albatross” closing the initial set and an extended version of “Clean My Wounds” serving as the encore. I especially appreciated the trio of songs from the band’s overlooked masterpiece, “In the Arms of God” (2005)—the opener “Stonebreaker,” “It is That Way” and “Paranoid Opioid.”
C.O.C. SET LIST: “Stonebreaker,” “Wiseblood,” “Wolf Named Crow,” “Born Again for the Last Time,” “The Door,” “Diablo Blvd.,” “It is That Way,” “Vote with a Bullet,” “Seven Days,” “Paranoid Opioid,” “Who’s Got the Fire,” “Albatross,” (encore) “Clean My Wounds”