Filed under: Live Music,Reviews — doktorjohn June 20, 2004 @ 8:12 pm

Miraculously reincarnated after their demise in 1996 and a painful eight-year absence, the return of Skinny Puppy was joyously hailed in NYC. Ever a fluid organization, ever re-organizing, ever new, the legendary SP has reunited around the central, creative core consisting of cEvin Key and Ogre (a.k.a. Ohgr), having lost Dwayne Goettel in 1996 around the time of their simultaneous breakup and the release of their presumed final album, The Process.

They appeared before a sell-out crowd of avid fans—Goths, punks and industrial freaks wearing every shade of black and sporting every variety of piercing, tattooing and transgressive attitude.As lights went down, smoke flooded the darkened stage and a 10-foot tall, projection screen flashed disturbing scenarios of infernos, explosions, war and kaleidoscopic images. The eerie strains of “Downsizer,” off their just-released album, The Greater Wrong of the Right, came on like the soundtrack of a horror movie, and the tightly packed crowd of frenzied enthusiasts surged forward. Ogre lurched menacingly on to the stage, in a hideous, ragged costume, wearing a headdress with a proboscis-like elongation, wantonly sprinkling the crowd with (theatrical?) blood.

The first several songs were directly from the new album in order: The rousing “I’mmortal,”then the angry rant “Pro-Test” and the despairing “EmpTe.”
Ogre‘s headdress came off and, they turned to their classic repertoire to the ecstatic delight of the appreciative crowd, exploding with mesmerizing, harshly beautiful masterpieces like “God’s Gift Maggot,” and “VX Gas Attack,” accompanied by appropriate visuals.

There was much in the way of juxtaposing President Bush with Hitler and with newsreel footage of bombings, particularly to the accompaniment of Neuworld (Order), but thankfully it was not all political diatribe. Ohgr‘s antics included nearly suffocating himself with a gas mask, shooting down marching, computer-game figures on the big screen, smearing himself with syrupy red liquid and draping the stage with yellow police-barrier ribbon.

Encores included a studio-perfect performance of their greatest anthem, “Testure,” as well as classics off Too Dark Park and other early albums. By encore time, Ohgr appeared in a fluorescent costume as—what else? — A skinny puppy.
Although the new album alone would certainly have sufficed to provide all material for the show, SP chose to satisfy their worshipful fans with timeless pieces like the beloved “Warlock,” “Inquisition,” and others that were greeted with roars of astonished gratitude and affection from the fans.

SP‘s message of existential angst, maniacal hate, political protest and madness has neither mellowed nor gone stale in this, their 3rd decade. Their ability to join haunting, even rapturously beautiful melodies with violent, electronic, rhythmic noise stands out above anything that has gone on before them. Their unique, inimitable style protects them from ever falling into the tame and kitschy acceptability that has claimed others in the genre.
Click on a link toSkinny Puppy’s website