Kicking off early with relatively short sets from Youth Code, Haujobb and Front Line Assembly, this weekend's Skinny Puppy show at the Ogden Theater seemed refreshingly succinct. And everyone, crowd and performers alike, seemed in good spirits. It was mostly electronic music, but what sets these particular artists apart from a lot of modern electronic music is the showmanship and the physicality, not just in the raw sound but also in the visual impact of the performers. This was epitomized by Skinny Puppy's content and color rich projected visuals as well as the costume and minor set changes throughout its beautifully nightmarish performance.
Before Puppy got going, Haujobb seemed in a playfully good mood, and Daniel Myer treated us to an anecdote from when he played in Denver in 2001 with Velvet Acid Christ and later meeting a stripper from Grand Junction and going on to marry her and tattoo her name on his neck and the date of the marriage on his forearm. He didn't recommend we follow in his footsteps -- not that we shouldn't date or even marry strippers, male or female, but that we should choose a better place for the tattoos. He recommended the ass crack, "because nobody sees that."
Bill Leeb probably has similar anecdotes as someone who was once in Skinny Puppy and has been touring with Front Line Assembly since the mid-'80s, but he didn't share them. Cutting a statuesque and graceful figure he roamed the stage restlessly and gestured dramatically. He also seemed overcome with a kind of gratitude that so many people came to see the whole show because he expressed such sentiments more than a few times in what seemed like an all too short set that ended with the 1992 FLA classic, "Mindphaser."
Rather than try to describe the Skinny Puppy set in detail, here are several images in chronological order in the set with clarifying captions when helpful.
In the next two photos you can see the remnants of this prop raw flesh that Ogre had eaten as the wolf/berserker on his lips and maybe even on this teeth and around his mouth.
Before the next picture, Ogre and some of the "scientists" and other types mixed two liquids together to produce luminescent blue fluid in a chalice then later a green glowing liquid in a bowl. Ogre also drew some of the fluid into his mouth and spit it off stage. The security guy in the center was provided with shielding because, well, that would be the decent thing to do when fake blood and other fluids might come from the stage.
Before this next image was captured, Ogre appeared to have cut himself up with the knife. He had previously used a cleaver to "kill" one of the "scientists" as well.
Before the encore, Ogre was placed into a cube on stage that had unfolded to become projection screens and he disappeared. He came back for an encore of older Skinny Puppy songs without a mask and occasionally playing Theremin.
Bias: As someone who has been assembling a chronology of music in my head for years I know that Skinny Puppy and Front Line Assembly have been important bands to the development of industrial and experimental electronic music. But I also happen to very much like most of that music as someone that enjoys something that's a little dark, a little weird and visceral.
Random Detail: Youth Code played at 6:50, so after finally getting parking and getting in I only got to hear some of the set from outside. But it sounded great even out there.
By the Way: Haujobb hadn't played Denver since 2002 when it had an appearance here with Hocico. Before that in 2001 with Denver's own Velvet Acid Christ, one of the latter's two or three ever local live shows including an early 2013 appearance at Casselman's Bar and Venue.
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If you'd like to contact me, Tom Murphy, on Twitter, my handle is @simianthinker.