TVD Live: Skinny Puppy, Army of the Universe, Technophobia at the Fillmore Silver Spring, 2/11

PHOTOS: RICHIE DOWNS | Cloaked in a black, pointy hooded cape and resembling a haunted porcelain-faced clown, Nvek Ogre emerged, huddled under a dirty yellow umbrella.  He shielded himself from the audience in dramatic tension as The Fillmore Silver Spring’s long-awaited Skinny Puppy show began.  A flood of images projected not only onto the band, but a tiled series of screens behind them.  The effect was cinematic and intensely visceral and paired perfectly with the band’s iconic electronic sound.

It’s been eight years since Skinny Puppy have released any music or toured. The current line-up is a far cry from the original line-up, lacking Dwayne Goettel on keys,  but at least contains seminal members Nvek Ogre and cEvin Key.  Skinny Puppy’s new material is cleaner and not as experimental or heavy as the earlier catalog, but this doesn’t detract from a brutal and theatrical performance from the current line-up.  Army of the Universe and DC’s Technophobia joined them for the magical evening.

With a dozen studio albums and two current releases, the Vancouver BC group had a lot of material to choose from to perform. With the release of two current albums, it was anticipated that the set would consist of newer material, and that was the case for the most part.  They opened with “Illisit,” off of their recent 2013 release Weapon, and launched into a few songs off The Greater Wrong of the Right.  The set included classics such as “Warlock,” which samples Charles Manson mid-song, saying, “Now is the only thing that’s real,”  “Spazmolytic” off Too Dark Park, and “Curcible” off The Process.

The were no shortage of dramatic props and captivating antics.  Ogre had this magical box from which he drew a strange dog statue, a sword, and a glass beaker with a neon sorcerer’s potion.  A man in a hazmat suit appeared as Ogre sang out of a neon-lit bullhorn, prepping what I can only describe as an electric fire science experiment that can only be understood if seen.  Those who witnessed the magic are that much more in tune with the power of Skinny Puppy’s enchantment.

Army of the Universe are accompanying Skinny Puppy on the February leg of their tour and have also toured with KMFDM.  They feature Zach Bagans on vocals, The Edge on Keytar, and some surfer dude.  Okay, but seriously the lead singer goes by “Kult of the Skull God,” aka Lord K.  Do you think he collects them so he can krush them with his bare hands to impress the ladies when he lures them back to his apartment?  The band was a ’90s industrial rip-off, like something you’d hear on the Slumber Party Massacre III soundtrack.  At one point, my friend turned to me and asked, “But if they’re the Army of the Universe, who are they fighting?” To which I replied, “It must be a never-ending internal struggle, I suppose.”

“Army of Me” features I think it was the biggest keytar I’ve ever seen. Suddenly all of our minds are blown because it looks like lasers are shot out of it. “No, that’s just a power glove,” my friend advises me.  Well, that’s appropriately broey, I retort.

Honestly, Technophobia should be touring with Skinny Puppy on the February leg of their tour. This is no doubt one of DC’s newest gems of a local band, featuring Denman Anderson (LTW) and Steve EP (Cryfest) on drum machine and loops. Denman is an enigmatic frontman who channels some serious Peter Murphy and at times Billie Mackenzie of The Associates. To complete the trio, glamazon Katie Petix is always stunning on keys and adds a haunting layer of vocals to most tracks.

If it weren’t for Skinny Puppy, I never would have have discovered my deep and abiding love for metal and industrial as an angst-ridden teenager, and I wouldn’t have gone as lady-balls deep as I have into music.  Skinny Puppy are one of a few bands who absolutely ignited a weird twisted obsession with dark and theatrical-themed music.  As Technophobia’s singer Denman Anderson quoted at the end of his set, “We all wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for Skinny Puppy,” and I wholeheartedly agree.



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