(full disclosure: I am the drummer in Diverje, and I got into this show for free, and opened the night. Yeah, live with it.)
On December 5th, one of Industrial’s most Iconic bands took the stage of the Sunshine Theater in Albuquerque, NM. Skinny Puppy, on their “In Solvent See” tour, made their way through the city and left some blown minds in their wake.
Diverje opened the night with a powerful set; we brought our most danceable set to the crowd, and it was well-received. It was refreshing to walk onto the stage of the Sunshine and have the crowd cheering before we’d even dropped our first note. We opened with “Unleashed” and proceeded to wreck the stage from there. With our guest noiseician Ken Cornell on beats and noise, we truly brought a sound to the audience that I don’t think they’d ever heard before.
Throughout the Night, DJ KE offered up, as he put it, “No industrial after 1991″. And boy, did he deliver. It was refreshing to hear some Meat Beat Manifesto played on a huge sound system. KE always knows how to bring the quality tunes, and this set was no exception.
Then, of course, there was the main event; Skinny Puppy. The first thing I noticed while setting up my gear was the MASSIVE visuals system that SP brought with them; white covered most everything, and a giant screen hung in the back of the stage. They used this to deliver a serious visual assault, with at least five different visual streams going at once.
What I also noticed was the lack of a new CD at the Merch booth; I found out that the tour’s Moniker directly related to the current state of Skinny Puppy’s label, SVP; it turns out that they’re currently filing for Insolvency and will be bankrupt quite soon – hence, no new CD from the band. This was unfortunate; it felt a bit odd to only see shirts and hats for sale at a merch booth. Either way, I’m sure Skinny Puppy will be able to find another label to support them soon enough.
Onto the music; SP has never been a band to be trifled with when performing live, and one can see why from this current stage setup. Lead singer OhGr entered the stage clad in a messily stitched together bright white suit (stained, burnt, and cut, with sleeves entirely too long for him) coupled with a mask and headpiece strangely reminiscent of a giant dunce cap (we’ll call it the evil dunce-cap), and proceeded to turn himself into a walking sponge for the aforementioned visuals. As the set progressed, OhGr removed layers from his mask, revealing a grinning and evil ghost and a blank (literally) black oval where the singer’s face would have been. OhGr also made use of metal canes (the type bought at a walgreeen’s, it seemed) throughout the set, twirling them, throwing them, and finally creating a makeshift cross which he mounted on his mic stand somewhere around “Morpheus Laughing”.
As always, cEvin Key offered up a wealth of synthesizers and programming, and drummer Justin Bennett took an almost progressive rock n’ roll view to the act’s live drumming; I found this interesting, as SP has typically been a band that I didn’t envision with a live drummer. While the typical four on the floor beats were present, the drumming was decidedly syncopated, with a large amount of heavy tom fills and beat heavy progressions.
OhGr used the stage to its fullest extent; stage right housed a plexiglass booth of sorts, in which OhGr would occasionally enter and belt out a verse or two. As he did, a camera in the booth was fed into the rear screen’s projector feed and mashed against other visual feeds to create a ghostly image of OhGr as he sung. At some point, I was surprised to see the booth explode with fake blood shortly after OhGr’s entrance, but not surprised when OhGr proceeded to smear it around like so much raspberry jelly.
The set concluded with smoke billowing out of OhGr’s evil dunce-cap to the tune of “Assimilate”. The crowd wasn’t ready to let SP go, and broke into not one, but two rounds of “happy birthday”, as OhGr’s birthday happened to be that night. The trio returned with “Worlock”, with OhGr strangely clad in only white jeans and a tank top; this unfortunately broke the image of what had followed in the previous songs, I felt, but the music stood for itself, as it was.
As I stood outside the venue for a chance to meet the band, I was glad to be met with others who enjoyed Diverje’s set, and were strangely surprised to find that we were indeed a local band. cEvin Key emerged at some point, and proceeded to take and keep my sharpie shortly after signing my broken Zildjian K cymbal; I figured it was only right if he kept it.
This was indeed a great honor, and truly a dream come true. I don’t know many musicians who get to share the stage with those musicians and bands they grew up listening to and were influenced by; I’ve been very lucky to be able to do so. Albuquerque is indeed one of the most active industrial music scenes that I think will be found in the US, and it shows with concerts like this, and others that have preceded it.
Below, find some video and pictures of the night: