Shapes for Arms Tour 2014
With Army of the Universe
Grand Central, Miami
Friday, February 7
Industrial music does not possess a great wealth of heroes. It's a genre that many acts love to borrow from, but rarely ever commit to.
However, Skinny Puppy is one group that can be counted among the genre's original mavericks. And with the buzz currently created by members cEvin Key and Nivek Ogre's $666,000 invoice to the United States government for the use of their music during sonic torture sessions at the Guantánamo Bay detention camp, the band's also in the midst of a mainstream media moment.
So this weekend, when Skinny Puppy returned to South Florida for a tour stop at downtown Miami's Grand Central, the place was crawling with pleather-clad fanatics.
The show was opened by Italian band Army of the Universe.
The group's sound was a mix of electro-industrial and grungy guitar that was presented with an odd lack of volume, causing the performance to sound like the soundtrack from a party scene in a late-'90s slasher flick.
Though the vocals appeared to be prerecorded from our vantage point, frontman Lord K's exuberance could not be hampered, though his shirtless pogo-ing failed to inspire much of a response from the crowd, who were all very busy adjusting their costumes and looking intense.
Late in the evening, the headliners took the stage amid a post-apocolyptic stage set, consisting of screens, platforms, grainy television sets. And the visuals were everything fans have come to expect of a Skinny Puppy performance, creating a garish, bleak environment ideal for the band's infamous ritualistic performances.
The show began with frontman Nivek Ogre dancing about the stage with an umbrella, hidden behind an eerie mask and hood, a scene out of what might have been if David Lynch had directed Eyes Wide Shut .
The crowd pulsated along with the thump of the title track off last year's Weapon as the cluster of televisions on stage broadcast live images from the performance back out to the audience.
As the set continued, Ogre adjusted sets of cloth screens that provided a home for glitchy projections, making the stage itself a dynamic part of the experience.
The crowd hopped and swayed to monotone vocals. And while we're certain there were some concert-goers disappointed over the lack of old material, most of the audience was enthralled with the performance from beginning to end.
Ogre changed costumes several times, becoming a dystopian warrior in a headdress at one point, dancing with a ceramic dog (kind of like a small version of the one from Friends), and danced with a dagger before cutting (or "cutting") his arm and bleeding on stage during the classic "Worlock."
Needless to say, the show was a unique experience. Though the synth churn and electro rumble of the songs (especially the newer material) became grating after a while, the visuals were fantastic and the night's writhing energy remained strong, both on the stage and out in the crowd.
We witnessed one man -- no-doubt feeling the affects of something extremely potent -- do 20 pushups in a corner by himself during a song. One man was overheard describing the scene as "a hidden rave on the fifth level of Doom," and by the end of the actual set, the audience appeared to be entirely spent.
However, the band's encore brought with it a pair of classic cuts that elicited a second wind from the withering, sweaty crowd of pleather-clad fanatics. And they danced in ceremonial oblivion till Skinny Puppy played its very last notes.