Skinny Puppy, one of the most prolific bands of the industrial music world, started their new tour in the Observatory Santa Ana last Friday. They opened the show with "Cholalone," a song they haven't performed since 2000. The classic song set the tone for a night of gloriously abrasive nostalgia for most die-hard fans who rarely (if ever) get to see the band perform in OC, as well as debuting songs from the latest chapter in their history.
Of course, what would a Skinny Puppy show be without a some (ok, a lot) of frightening on-stage antics. Co-founder Nivek Ogre sported a seriously creepy mask throughout the set alongside cEvin Key and Mark Walk, but it only added to the affect his devilish voice had on the crowd. It was as if it were a mad scientist at work, feeding off the energy of the audience as he slipped into madness. At one point Ogre took out water that was set up on stage and made it look like some strange potion then drank it down like Dr. Jekyll.
With 30 years under their belt, many bands can get in the habit of phoning it in during their live show, however that definitely wasn't the case on Friday. The vocals were spot on and the band's sound felt extremely tight inside the Observatory.
We heard a few songs from the 2013 album, Weapon, which they incorporated effortlessly in the set. Some of the live debuts included "illisit," "wornin," "salvo," and "paragUn." It was also great to see how the fans would react in person to new material and everyone seemed to be really enjoying it. Ogre didn't address the audience until it was time for an the encore, but considering the ceaseless, thrashing energy of the show, pleasantries weren't all that important.
Instead, Ogre focused more on showmanship, twirling around an umbrella at various times or opening up a white box to place himself behind so it was just his outline and the projection screen on the white box. By the end of the show, it had morphed into more of a twisted musical theater production than a concert. Everything that was place on stage was deliberate and the set list reflected the effect he was going for. It is very rare for an artist to achieve this and so very few do anymore.
The Crowd: Drunken fans intermingling with a bunch of high school kids here for a band in the other room.
Personal Bias: I ended up bumping into an impressionable female teenager milling around the Observatory and we got into a heavy conversation about life..corrupting the youth, one at a time.