Down the SocioPath Tour 2017
It has been seven years since Skinny Puppy last visited the UK, and a lot has happened since, including the release of their latest album, Weapon, in 2013. I sadly missed the opportunity to see them live on their previous tour, and having never seen them before, I jumped at the chance to see them this time round! It seems odd for them to be touring, as founders Nivek Ogre and cEvin Key are pretty busy with their side-projects right now (ohGr and The Tear Garden respectively.) Although the fact that they’ve been chosen to play Wave Gotik Treffen in Leipzig probably has a lot to do with it. So, not being really tied to an album to promote, it was anyone’s guess as to how the night would transpire.
Support Ventenner were quite an interesting start to the proceedings. I hadn’t looked them up prior to the gig, so I had no idea what to expect. Their sound was a lot more metal oriented than the main act, which made for a nice contrast of what was to come. At times, I really got vibes of Nine Inch Nails from their style. There was a fair bit of power to their performance, and they put on a great set. I’ll be sure to check them out more, especially after that performance!
With 35 years under their belt, Skinny Puppy had plenty of songs to delve into from their massive 12 album back catalogue. In a twist that no one could see coming, it ended up being a night of their much older, classic tracks, and it was a very welcome choice indeed! In fact, they played nothing beyond 1996’s The Process, with the exception of ‘Village‘, which surprisingly worked amongst the torrent of older tracks. I’ll admit, my knowledge of Skinny Puppy is a bit rusty, although I did recognise most of the song played (but couldn’t have told you the titles of most of them at the time.) Of course, it was hard to miss the iconic sounds of songs such as ‘Tin Omen‘, ‘Worlock‘ and ‘Assimilate‘, the latter of which closed the main set perfectly, it was definitely a highlight of the night. As someone who is more of a fan of Skinny Puppy‘s earlier output, I was more than satisfied with how well crafted the setlist was! Too many times I’ve seen bands and artists leave their older material by the wayside, in favour of newer tracks at live gigs, so it was great to see a band actually embrace their earlier works.
I was well aware of the level of performance that the band put into their shows, adding theatrical elements into the mix to make it more of an experience. After all these years, I was worried of the possibility of them toning it down. Tonight my fears were quelled, as they were as theatrical as ever! The band arrived on stage to a haunting ambience, with Ogre being the last to take the stage, dressed in robes and some sort of animal mask. He spent the set being tormented by a hostile figure, dressed in a mechanical, demonic looking mask with glowing red eyes. At the very start he tore Ogre’s robes off, and took off his mask, revealing him to be in a decaying mummy-like outfit. Throughout the set, he kept on attaching syringes to him, with Ogre ‘injecting’ them into himself, and the blood effect seeping through the white of this clothes. As the set went on, he became more compliant, and eventually allowed it to happen unperturbed. Syringes containing a UV substance were used later on, and he eventually covered himself with the substance within. The effect was really striking, and with Ogre himself being a political and animal rights activist, the symbolism was definitely clear. I can honestly say I’ve ever seen anything like it before, and it was superbly carried out.
You’d think this would be to distracting for the band, but it really wasn’t. They harnessed a massive energy throughout the entirety of the performance, with Ogre and guitarist Matthew Setzer constantly bouncing around the stage. Key was constantly moving to every note he played too, the band were definitely up for it. Admittedly, Orge changed into normal clothes for the encore, but after enduring the costume he was wearing throughout the set, it was hard to blame him. There wasn’t much in the way of crowd interaction, but they really didn’t need it. They communicated through their huge presence, and high level of theatrics. The atmosphere was really intense and electrifying throughout the entire night. It felt like it was over in a flash, but that was only because it was so enjoyable.
If I’m honest, I did have quite high hopes for this, but I wasn’t sure how it would go. However, I have to say that not only did they blow me away, and completely blow my expectations out of the water, but they put on probably one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to! It was oozing with atmosphere and style, and they performed everything pitch-perfectly. It was the perfect blend of performance and music, that resonated in an amazing way. If you’re seeing them on this tour, you’re really in for a treat!
3. Fascist Jock Itch
5. Tin Omen
8. Hardset Head
10. The Choke
12. Killing Game
14. VX Gas Attack