A last-minute ticket purchase sent me to the Astoria to see Skinny Puppy. It’s been a while since I’ve been to the Astoria, and it’s a place that holds a special place in my heart, so within seconds of entering the venue, I was filled with an optimistic foreboding of the evening. Everything about this place is just right. Even tiny me could see the stage clearly from the two places I chose to stand throughout the night.
I found myself just in front of the sound board for Otto Von Schirach, who, in a nutshell, is like Robochrist’s RolePlaying little brother. Their performance was just as much theatre as it was musically entertaining. Aurally, they are perhaps what you’d expect a Skinny Puppy support act to be. Noisy, dramatic, and technotastic.
Accordingly, therefore, I half expected Skinny Puppy to come on and play 90 minutes of full-on industrial noise, and have to leave for my sanity halfway through. (I love all that business on record, but cranked up to gig volume, I can start to annoy after a while.) But I was pleasantly surprised to be met with a very ambient, very beatsy, and really entertaining stage show. Perhaps due to the fact that they weren’t freshly promoting a new record, the setlist was a pleasing mix of old and new, enough to excite those who knew the backcatalogue front to back, and titilate those who only knew the hits. The modest use of projections and screens were very effective, if a little cliche in places. Ogre made for a striking post-apocalyptic frontman in contrast to his tshirt-and-jeans colleagues, and commandeered the evening with presence and stature. I knew very little about Skinny Puppy live, and it was interesting to see that they translated the whole crunchy machine thing in a different way to a lot of their contemporaries. They’ve gone up a lot in my estimation as a result.