The first time ever heard of Skinny Puppy was in 2005, when my friend in high school showed me the music video for Pro-Test on his computer. This track was from their album The Greater Wrong of the Right. It was a goth squad versus break dance crew show down to this dark electronic music I never heard of before. Yes, that was actually my first encounter with the industrial category of music. It turns out that while it may not be my primary preference of music, I do like like their stage presence and what they stand for. Most of their songs are viciously ear breaking and were found to be used to the US Government to torture Guantanamo Bay prisoners. Hopefully it’s no offence to the band. Skinny Puppy are pioneers in the field no questions asked.
Last night was the kick off to their Eye vs. Spy tour at the Sound Academy in Toronto. It was a fitting venue of choice as industrial yards surround it giving it that underground warehouse vibe. As soon as I stepped into the show, I immediately felt out of place. The room was packed with leather black suits and dresses of a gothic variety. And there was me, a random Asian dude with a tweed coat. At least it was black right? Anyways, I’ve been to my fair share of odd gigs, and after talking to some concert-goers, I realized that they are probably the nicest and most intelligent people out there. Mainly tech geeks like me. Go figure.
The stage set up was pretty elaborate with dozens of monitors in the background and a handful of projectors spitting out political figure heads, dollar signs and stock market symbols. After digging into Skinny Puppy a bit, you will find out that they have a counter-culture agenda.
In a very theatrical manner, Nivek Orge is seen as a shadowy figure spinning an umbrella and then revealing his ghost faced mask. While definitely making for some great photos, it was pretty intense in the pit as he leaned towards my lens. In the back, audio master cEvin Key pumped out the soul of the industrial feel timed precisely with all the strobing light effects. A person in a biohazard suit appears to be checking on computer behind the scenes and taking notes of the crowd. This human prop just adds to the creepiness. It’s fun. The show featured songs from their latest and 12th album Weapon as well as Mythmaker. At some point ghostface man is wrapped up in a dark tube and transformed into a were-dog and leaps right to the front of the stage.
Seeing Skinny Puppy live is totally different than just listening to their music on your iPod. They take everything you’re listening to and enhance it with a visual performance that intensifies everything ten-fold.