Skinny Puppy/Vvervvolf Grehv @ The Phoenix, Toronto, ON, November 13, 2009

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By Melissa Andrews

In the twenty plus years that Skinny Puppy have been around, their Friday the thirteenth show at Toronto’s Phoenix Concert Theatre was the first time I made it out to see them. Something always seemed to come up to prevent me from going. Even this time it was scheduled on the same date as the now indefinitely postponed Slayer tour. The show was sold out with scalpers milling about the sidewalk asking if people were selling tickets.

The tour is called the In Solvent See Tour. I can only guess that the name is related to the band’s record label filling for bankruptcy earlier in the year. This has put an indefinite delay on the release of the album but according to the band’s website they are in meetings to find a way to still release the album.

Due to some logistical problems I missed most of the set from the opening band, Vvervvolf Grehv. The band is a one-man show that sounds electronic with spurts of black metal. While this combination might be something to enjoy listening at home on headphones, it didn’t work 100% in this type of live setting. The people around me on the balcony were grumbling a bit about how they wanted the set over but people by the stage appeared to be enjoying themselves.

It was a quick turnaround to getting Skinny Puppy on stage. The band had a reasonably sophisticated set up for a club show but theatrics have always been part of the band’s show. As would be expected there was a large screen in the background where multiple quick moving images were flashed. Oghr came out on stage using twin canes to make up a walker. He was dressed in a full silvery suit including full mask the reminded me of a windsock with eye holes. The whole outfit made me think of a space age gingerbread man.

The crowd was into the music from the very beginning. There wasn’t too much room for anyone to move about much especially if they didn’t want to spill their beer so tiny movements were more the norm than dancing about. They played songs spanning the entire career so that most people got a chance to hear some of their favourites. About half way through the set Oghr got into a frosted glass cross between a shower stall and an elevator and a surveillance camera projected the images of his dancing while being sprayed with blood across the screen.

I did feel a little cheated with the length of the set after only about an hour of playing they left the stage. After a brief pause they came back on stage minus Ogrh’s costume. I felt the encore was a sort of let down as the energy seemed to decrease as people started shuffle out. The show may not have been as radical or exciting as seeing them in the 80’s or 90’s but it was still a show that was worth going to see.

Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.