PHOTOGRAPHY BY: JASON HODGINS
WORDS BY: GIANCARLO CORTEZ
Vancouver-based Industrial pioneers Skinny Puppy kicked off their Eye vs Spy Tour in Toronto at the Sound Academy on November 28, 2014. The Canadian legends were joined by Front Line Assembly, Haujobb and Youth Code.
Los Angeles duo Youth Code started the party with their industrious electronics. Sarah Taylor (vocals) is a beast on stage. After slapping herself in the face the American singer started to choke herself with the microphone cord. She delivered an aggressive performance as she ended the brutality by smashing her mic against her forehead. Blood almost streamed down her face! However the music needs a lot of maturity to catch up to their violent stage show. I’d steal her t-shirt that says “shot by cops”, if those giant security guys didn’t stop me that is! Her shirt and her tattoos were noticed instantly by the crowd.
Next up we got Haujobb. Puzzling the crowd with their noisy repertoire the Germans are part of the new wave of electronic dance bands to come storming out of Europe. Mountainous percussion combined with minimalist light show to create a set that manages to be dark but without having to drop the octane levels. For all their good points in the live environment, the Germans suffered a little. There’s a lot to get your teeth into, but when it comes to bringing that extra something that truly gets the blood pumping, there’s very little to note.
The Austrian born Bill Leeb’s Front Line Assembly followed. Leeb’s background is Skinny Puppy, so it is only natural that the music they make is similar, but they had a lot of distinctive elements. All the members come from different backgrounds and that brought a lot of different influences as all performers (five on stage) had their own drums which they played from time to time. The prolific Vancouver band went deeper in to the catalog than the casual fan would appreciate. Towards the end the show the charismatic singer got the crowd clapping along for a while.
From the start, it took a while for the place to fill up but by the time Skinny Puppy hit the stage, the place was sardine-packed. The sheer level of musicianship on display is on a different planet to those shown by the other bands on the bill. It was a high resolution experience. Dozens of monitors in the background plus projectors showed political figures, dollar signs and worms. It reminded me of Pink Floyd’s The Wall. The three decades-old, the band played mostly classic cherry-picked from all albums. “First Aid” and “Deep Down Trauma Hounds” were crowd favourites.
The fired up crowd loved the costume tweaks and how vocalist Ogre pumped up new elements into the old faves. They responded very well when the singer criticized Harper as Ogre said, “Harper is Destroying Canada”. Around the end of the set the eccentric frontman shocked Skinny Puppy virgins by cutting his wrist and removing his own tooth which ended up in the crowd. It was a crowd-pleasing end from a band that keeps its crowd-pleasing subtle.