Photos and Text by Robert Hanna
SKINNY PUPPY, FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY, HAUJOBB, YOUTH CODE live at Showbox SoDo 12.15.2014
Industrial rock pioneers SKINNY PUPPY returned to Seattle on their Eye vs. Spy Tour (renamed recently after VNV NATION dropped out as main support unexpectedly in November), backed by fellow Canadians and former SP collaborators FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY, ‘90s electro-industrial mainstays HAUJOBB, and L.A.-based industrial duo YOUTH CODE, who although brand new in the arena, are breathing much needed life and relevancy back into the genre.
Leipzig, Germany’s HAUJOBB, while not as generally recognized as much as their electro-industrial/EBM colleagues VNV NATION or :wumpscut:, were very much instrumental in the genre’s second wave in the ‘90s. Playing a short 6-song set, they mainly performed material from their latest releases, New World March LP and Dead Market EP. Opening the night were visceral industrial power couple/duo YOUTH CODE, whose self-titled full length LP released last year on Dais Records caught quite a bit of attention from indie media outlets. Walking a balance between melodic cold wave and violent power electronics, their energetic live set might have even been better reserved as a main support for SKINNY PUPPY, despite their relatively new emergence into the scene.
Almost completely encased in a massive blanket of fog machine smoke, ‘80s electro-industrial champions FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY still have managed to stay relevant through several line-up changes and incarnations since their inception after frontman Bill Leeb originally left SKINNY PUPPY in 1985. Playing several songs off their latest (and actually quite good) release Echogenetic (2013), FLA had a powerful and danceable set, and it was impressive hearing the audio textures from Echogenetic pulled off in a live setting.
With an arsenal of digital projection monitors, CCTVs, and illuminated panels, SKINNY PUPPY’s set read like a twisted sci-fi/horror b-movie, with vocalist Nivek Ogre transforming and decaying through multiple costume changes, and at the taunting of post-apocalyptic scientists who performed gruesome experiments and charted notes on the often bloody and/or vomiting singer. With a rather diverse set that spanned across much of their best material, the newer tracks from 2013’s Weapon seemed to fit in visual and musical context to older hits, but perhaps more complex in their orchestration and devoid of the incessant sampling that defined much of earlier SP songs.