Show Review: Corrosion of Conformity – The Machine Shop – Flint, Michigan

Event: Corrosion of Conformity Midwest Tour, 2022

Venue: The Machine Shop – Flint, MI

Date: November 22, 2022

Artists Performed: The Native Howl, Spirit Adrift, Corrosion of Conformity

My last trip to The Machine Shop was in June. The weather was considerably warmer then, obviously, and the crowd Cradle of Filth drew in was considerably thinner, which was a surprise. Corrosion of Conformity, it seemed to me, though a different beast musically wasn’t any more or less legendary. If anything I’d have thought the early summer air would have attracted more people than the chill we were treated to in November. This was not the case and that was evident early on.

The first opening act was Detroit-based “thrash-grass” outfit The Native Howl. What is “thrash-grass”? It’s part thrash metal, part bluegrass and it’s badass! These guys do more damage with an acoustic guitar and a banjo than than anyone with a sound mind would reasonably expect, and don’t think for a second you can be in a room with them and remain motionless. You’ll hurt yourself. Trust me. They do a song called “Harvester of Constant Sorrow” that’s a mixture of Metallica’sHarvester of Sorrow” and “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow” by The Soggy Bottom Boys. Absolute craziness! A crowd favorite, I suspect. How could it not be? It sure was the night I was there. Holy shit!

If you chose to watch the video above, I’m betting you had a damn good time while doing so. Imagine that in a live setting with twice the energy. Fantastic!

Spirit Adrift had a tough job following those guys, but they didn’t let up the pace for a moment. Opening their set with “Sorcerer’s Fate,” from their 20 Centuries Gone EP, was a good call. Straightforward, classic heavy metal with a look to match, Spirit Adrift is as authentic as it gets.

Something I have found with their albums – as well as some of the other NWOTHM bands like Enforcer or Haunt – is the vocals being mixed high in the mix, and I’m not a huge fan of that characteristic. I’m happy to say that part of their sound wasn’t present live, and I walked all around during the set. The sound was impeccable, which really gave Spirit Adrift a chance to shine like the heavy metal diamonds they are. This was particularly evident during the two tracks they played from Enlightened in Eternity – “Ride into the Light,” and “Astral Levitation,” the latter of which singer/guitarist Nate Garrett dedicated to Tony Iommi. Another dedication just prior to the end of their set went out to Trevor Strnad; an occurrence that has become somewhat customary since the singer’s passing this May, and one I hope continues.

Between The Native Howl and Spirit Adrift, the crowd was sufficiently wired, to put it mildly. The place was packed and ready for Corrosion of Conformity before the opening acts, so when Pepper Keenan and company hit the stage, people went ape-shit. This was my first CoC experience and, though I was aware of the band’s reputation, I did not expect an eruption. I mean, damn! I’m no stranger to excitable crowds, but these folks were grungy as hell. Ready to roll around in the mud, so to speak.

Bottom Feeder” opened the set, followed by “Paranoid Opioid,” then “Shake Like You” and “Seven Days” from Deliverance. Talk about sludge! These guys are road warriors to the core, and they love it. You can see it on their faces. You can see it on the chipped paint of their guitars. And you bet your ass you can hear it on all imaginable fronts.

And I’ll tell you something else… that audience was in love from note one. Even some of the Machine Shop staff were in the middle singing along and pumping their fists. That shit doesn’t happen all the time. CoC kept the kick-ass comin’ with a set heavy on tunes from Deliverance and America’s Volume Dealer, they snuck in a couple from Wiseblood and In the Arms of God. I would have liked to hear more from Blind, but with a catalog as rich as CoC’s, it’s really hard to complain. Not to mention, they’ve been playing most of these songs for twenty-plus years. No doubt they’re burnt out on more than a handful.

They ended the night, not surprisingly, with “Albatross” and “Clean My Wounds,” not for a moment taking the crowd’s enthusiasm for granted. This was an extremely high-energy, collectively enthusiastic experience that I would love to take part in again. I can see Corrosion of Conformity being the kind of band people follow around the country to observe them interacting with different crowds, possibly changing the set depending on the mood of the night. Even the same songs played under various circumstances would be something special to behold. I recon this won’t be the last CoC show I attend. Next time I’ll bring friends.

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