Industrial legends Skinny Puppy returned to NYC on their highly anticipated Eye vs. Spy Tour alongside co headliner Front Line Assembly.
The announcement that Canadian industrial act Skinny Puppy and German electronic act VNV Nation were co-headliningÂ the Alliance of Sound Tour together was met with excitement among fans, especially from their New York City devotees. It has been 10 months since they performed in NYC on their Live Shaped of Arms Tour, where they sold out Webster Hall on Valentine’s Day. VNV Nation graced the New York City Stage back in May at the Bowery Ballroom, where they treated fans to two back to back sold out intimate shows. However,Â it almost seemed too good to be true. Unfortunately, it was.
Last month VNV Nation issued a statement on their Facebook page that theyÂ willÂ pull out of the upcoming North American trek due to “a problematic situation.” The reason for the cancellation was not made public,Â but thankfully it was not health related. This left many diehard fans disappointed, whom rushed to the band’s Facebook page to express their dismay. There were those that had purchased their tickets solely for VNV Nation, and many overseas fansÂ had made travel arrangements. As the week progressed, many questions circulated whether the tour will be postponed, called off, and if another band will be added to the bill. Skinny Puppy made sure to find an appropriate replacement and save the tour
Almost immediately, Skinny Puppy announced Front Line AssemblyÂ will be added as co-headliner on newly titled Eye vs Spy Tour. The news was met with enthusiasm from their fans who has seen the band during their early days.Â Front Line Assembly frontman, Bill Leeb, once played with Skinny Puppy back in the ’80s under the pseudonym Wilhelm Schroeder. Last year, he has expressed his longtime desire for a Skinny Puppy/Front Line Assembly tour, and suggested on calling it theÂ Monsters of Industrial Tour.
The night kicked off with the Los Angeles DuoÂ Youth Code, executing their brand of industrial music. Vocalist Sarah Taylor is a force to be reckoned with. In the midst of their set she slapped herself in the face and started to choke herself. Many in the audience were puzzled wondering what will she do next. For the finale, she smashed her mic against her forehead. Their performance was aggressive and entertaining. Though the band is relatively unknown, it is without a doubt that the band has a bright future ahead of them.
The German crossover electro/industrial/ambient/techno band,Â Haujobb, played second. The groupÂ was formed in 1993, and have over 11 albums inÂ their catalog. Through out the past 21 years, their material has been consistent with their techno roots. Haujobb has taken influence from VNV Nation and deconstructed that sound to create their own thrown with the John Cage philosophy for good measure.
Their ecstasy driven musicÂ had the audience moving .Â The energy in the air had a copulating feel through out the evening , this is IDM music at its best. The band does not tour often it was a rare chance to seem live in the States.
Bill Leeb’s Front Line Assembly followed. Leeb’s background is Skinny Puppy, it’s fitting that the music is similar, but they have their own distinctive elements. All members of the group are come from different backgrounds, and have their own influences. All of the five performers had their own drums which they played through out their 50-minute set. They showed their Beethoven influence as Leeb, who seems to defy Father Time, sang with his youthful but yet seasoned voice.
The stand out songs were “Killing Grounds” and “Blood,” the only two songs from their last studio album of new material. During their set, the visionary band dwelt deep in to their massive catalog and their fans shouted in approval. Bill Leeb commanded the stage. He did not hold still for a single moment. He marched and stomped around the stage while singing, even when playing the drums.
As the night was coming to embrace Skinny Puppy, we saw the surreal stage props that has been a staple of Skinny Puppy since the early 80’s. These Canadians are considered the founders of electro/industrial genre.
Justin Bennett on the drums is a central figure and kept the drum pads with the funeral tone. The other founding member vocalist Nivek Ogre was masked along with a couture assortment from hell as he changed outfits for every few songs.
The lyrical theme of the night was a look at the animal testing debate.
TheÂ vibe that was establish before has now taken a back seat. They opened up with the song “Fritter,” which perfectly segue into “Convulsion.” The mixture of costumes, stage props and lighting was otherworldly. It was avant-garde fed to the masses.
“illisiT” is probably the one song they perform that is radio friendly, but not ready for radio. The samples of the songs “The Choke” and “Deep Down Trauma Hounds” sounded live, which made the gothic evening much more chilling. By this point it was clear to see the impact Skinny Puppy had on Trent Reznor and Al Jourgensen.
Yet somehow they sounded fresh and survived past the genre. If VNV Nation is the gold standard of future pop then it is safe to say Skinny Puppy is the father of industrial music, who borrowed the industrial and tape music philosophy set by John Cage and Halim El-Dabh.
Every genre has its progenitors and once Skinny Puppy hang their mask, keyboards and props time will show that this music has its place in the arts. Whether it is goth, metal, rap, or rock, any true artists can learn from Skinny Puppy.