Show Review: Skinny Puppy and Lead Into Gold at The Met in Philadelphia, PA

If there is a definitive band that bridged the gap between new wave synth-focused bands of the ’80s and the emergence of industrial music less than a decade later, to my mind, that band is Skinny Puppy. Notable beyond their fusion of layered analog and digital samplings is their avant-garde theatrical performances. Having been around for 40 years, the announcement of what was to be dubbed their final tour wasn’t especially shocking regardless of their success throughout the years, particularly in Europe. It did, however, give all the Gen X and Millenial goth “kids” a reason to come together again on this final go-around to celebrate the highly regarded band still touring with consistent members—keyboardist cEvin Key and performative frontman and vocalist Nivek Ogre.

Before the headlining performance, the two-member synthwave band Lead Into Gold took the stage. With a lone synthesizer, heavy sampling, and occasional electric bass accompaniment by vocalist Paul Barker of Ministry fame, their music leans away from the more dance-oriented end of the synth-wave spectrum and more toward the industrial side.

Though Skinny Puppy are known for quite elaborate stage shows throughout their tour history, this tour would feature a somewhat more traditional live presentation, aside from a bit of face paint, an infamous alien costumed Ogre, some playful torture reenactments, and, of course, brains exploding confetti into the air.

Their set began with a backlit stretched white sheet toward the rear of the center of the stage from which Ogre’s amorphous silhouette could be seen superimposed in front of another figure onto the back of the tented formation. The drum kit was set up downstage right with regular touring guitarist Matthew Setzer upstage. Opposite them was cEvin’s towering metal rigging fully dominating stage left real estate from which he commanded his musical contributions with little personal visibility so as to maintain focus on the action within the central space of their set up. That is where the majority of the theatrical performance would be showcased.

After two songs of Ogre’s constantly fluctuating silhouette, he emerged into the spotlight in ragged, dark robes and blue rubber surgical gloves with nothing of himself visible except the lower portion of his mostly masked face peeking out beneath the oversized hood reminiscent of Emperor Palpatine. His figure would writhe and lurch across the stage through sharp zig zagging streaks of predominantly green and purple light. Soon he shed his robes, revealing his oversized alien cranium and glowing eyes, the form in which he would continue the majority of the show. Full of play-acting, light bondage, and alien surgeries, among other playful antics, the show concluded with Ogre reemerging for one last song in human form and visibly praising his fellow musicians and performers before turning his genuinely appreciative gestures toward the crowd as if to say thank you for a long career made possible by their fandom.


Skinny Puppy

Lead Into Gold

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