PHOENIX — Corrosion of Conformity made its first appearance at the Crescent Ballroom on Thursday night, less than a year after the band’s last stop in the Valley of the Sun. Boasting most of its classic lineup—singer Pepper Keenan, guitarist Woody Weatherman and bassist Mike Dean—the band tore through an energetic 13-song set and left a sweaty, exhausted crowd in its wake.
Kicking things off with “Stonebreaker,” from 2005 album In the Arms of God, Corrosion of Conformity launched into a full-fledged sonic assault of crunching guitars and snarled lyrics. The crowd responded in kind, some raising beer glasses to toast the metal icons while bodies smashed into each other in the mosh pit. The chaos only served to fuel the band onward, and Keenan frequently nodded his approval.
Despite the wave of critical acclaim that followed COC’s last album, No Cross, No Crown, the band offered merely a single cut from that record: “Wolf Named Crow.” The rest of the set was cultivated from throughout Corrosion of Conformity’s 30-years-plus history, with beloved tracks like “Wiseblood” and “Diablo Blvd” hearkening back to its most prolific period in the mid-’90s and early 2000s. The iconic 1994 record Deliverance—Keenan’s first outing as lead singer—provided the final two selections of the evening, “Albatross” and “Clean My Wounds.”
New Orleans band Crowbar preceded the headliners, reaching deep into its catalog and pulling out classics like “All I Had (I Gave)” and “Broken Glass.” Despite more than 20 years of recording and touring, the sludge metal pioneers are still going strong, peppering their hourlong set with a smattering of newer tracks. “I Am the Storm,” from 2016’s The Serpent Only Lies, was a particular standout.
North Carolina’s Weedeater immediately struck a humorous tone when bassist and lead vocalist Dave “Dixie” Collins took the stage and cheerfully announced “We’re Weedeater and we fuckin’ suck, so y’all better ask for your money back.” Collins’ goofball stage antics—frequently sticking his tongue out, making faces at fans in the front and pretending to perform sex acts on the microphone—seemed a curious match for the band’s heavy, bass-driven style, but the crowd roared its approval.
Dallas trio Mothership, who described its sound as “supersonic intergalactic heavy rock,” opened the show. That oddly specific description may be difficult to quantify, but there’s no questioning the positive reception they enjoyed from the Phoenix crowd. Metal, in all its forms, is alive and well in the desert.
Follow photographer Brent Hankins at Instagram.com/greatwidenowhere.