The maestro of Ministry brought his band to Houston Open Air on Saturday night. Little did "Uncle" Al Jourgensen know that his would be one of only nine artists out of 38 to end up playing the inaugural two-day festival.
While the weather gods permeated the air throughout the weekend, but never actually spewed forth until Sunday afternoon, the heavy metal gods ensured that Jourgensen and his cohorts of industrial metal would play a full set on one of the two side-by-side main stages. And his bandmates changed slightly from Ministry's June 2015 performance at the tiny Mohawk Bar in Austin (coverage here
). Accompanying Jourgensen and his skeletal mic stand sidekick at NRG Park this time were Stone Sour drummer Roy Mayorga and left-handed Prong bassist Jason Christopher.
Ministry's 6:05 p.m. set was supposed to be well into the festival's festivities but ended up only being the third performance of the day after thousands were evacuated from the premises for roughly five hours. Patrons from other cities, states and occasionally countries were forced to wait in their vehicles, return to their hotels and/or find something to eat offsite as the threat of lightning within a 7-10 mile radius of the grounds led to one canceled band after another. That included the festival debut of Max and Iggor's Return to Roots, with the Cavalera brothers scheduled to perform their 1996 Sepultura record Roots in its entirety. Although their 30-minute set would not have allowed for that to happen anyway, it would have been better than nothing. Instead, Iggor Cavalera was relegated to a side-stage viewing of Ministry's set after not being able to play his own.
On a weekend hashtagged as #WeekendToRemember by festival organizers Danny Wimmer Presents, Cavalera and 20,000 strong witnessed a show that beckons for a special remembrance when people recall the festival in the future for something other than the weather. Ministry
, which also includes guitarists such as El Paso native Cesar Soto
and Sin Quirin plus keyboardist John Bechdel, hit the stage with "Punch in the Face." And while the crowd was hell bent on receiving 38 bands' worth of a musical fix throughout the two days, they received "Just One Fix" from Jourgensen and Co., along with "Senor Peligro," "N.W.O. (New World Order)" and "LiesLiesLies" among nine tracks.
Jourgensen, a former "resident" of Travis County Jail in Austin who discussed with AXS earlier this year his two-man side project Surgical Meth Machine (listen here
), played harmonica on one tune before tossing it into the crowd. He gazed his customary eyeball fixes upon the masses, occasionally made like he was surfing on stage and generally ensured he was having as good a time as the fans that had been starving for any type of musical activity.
Danny Wimmer Presents released a statement Monday backing its decision to evacuate the premises each day. They announced refund plans Wednesday (details here
), which may have been slight consolation to festival-goers deprived of the full Houston Open Air
experience. Especially those who traveled from afar and incurred ticket, hotel, food and gas or flight expenses.
But if those same fans were to get at least one major fix out of the weekend, Jourgensen and Ministry weren't just more than happy to provide it. They crushed it.