Enter stage right ... A man or creature straight out of a surrealist painting or LSD induced nightmare, a.k.a. Nivek Ogre of Skinny Puppy. If you've never seen this band perform live you should witness one of their shows at least once before it's too late. The band was created in 1982 as a side project that only paused briefly after Ogre left in 1995 due to drug issues and band related tensions that mounted, not long after that seasoned bandmate Dwayne Goettel died of a heroin overdose … It seemed to be a final curtain call for a band that has pioneered a lot of today's sounds in the industrial genre. However Skinny Puppy resurrected in 2003 with Nivek Ogre, cEvin Key and Mark Walk after performing a prior show together in Germany … Since that time the band has toured extensively after signing with Synthetic Symphony records of Germany.
Last night's performance would have left one thinking the band has never had a single issue among members. Both new and old tunes were as strong as ever as they played songs from 'Rabies', 'Last Rights' and 'Mythmaker' just to name a few. A packed audience at Houston's Warehouse Live moved in unison as their favorite masters of electronica-industrial filled the air with sounds of traditional percussion, keyboards, sampled audio clips and computer generated riffs. Midway led to an old school mosh pit and crowd surfing all while Ogre's theatrical stage antics and costumes wowed the eyes and imagination afore a splendid display of video and motion graphics. Any Skinny Puppy fan, new or old would have been thrilled by the performance.
Earlier that evening a seemingly unknown opened the show … No support band was listed on the bill and really it was a support man vs. band. A one-man show who by appearance alone could've been a long lost brother of Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore. No Thurston was this stranger … a lighter version of Moore's appearance and Skinny Puppy's sound the crowd wasn't very sure what to make of his opening act. That consisted of a guitar and his rig compiled of varies amps, a laptop and a few control boxes that seemed to distort voice, other sounds and make a few work lamps flash on and off. Oh, and the giant horse mouth painting behind him. Seriously, 25 years ago one could have expected such an act to open for Skinny Puppy, hell it would have been welcome. But with less than 30 days until the year 2010 maybe Nivek could have found a support band whose a bit more progressive and worthy of opening for one of the greatest industrial bands of all time.
All said, the show was a welcome change of pace from what is typical in the Houston music scene. As long as Ogre and the rest of the SP crew keep experimenting with sounds and music and continue to mesh their passions with it Skinny Puppy has a strong future ahead of themselves. And fans worldwide will be able to tell their friends about the wonderful visual and audible delights that filled their heads at one of the weirdest concerts they've ever attended.
Rock on! -- von Wolffe