21. Skinny Puppy plus comedian. Fulham Greyhound, 21st May 1988.
This was a really sunny day, so a bit of drinking outside the venue was called for. I can’t remember much about the Greyhound except it was a bit of a hike from the nearest tube. I suspect I was still wearing a leather jacket and army surplus trousers despite the heat. And the obligatory t-shirt.The unwritten rule was that you couldn’t wear a t-shirt of a band which was actually on the bill, but you should try to wear one featuring an act which was similar, but more obscure.
In those days wearing a t-shirt signified being a true fan with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the band in question. At least it did for me. So, yes, I get annoyed by goons wearing Ramones shirts these days who can’t tell you three of their favourite tunes. (Off the top of my head: “Beat on the Brat”, “53rd and 3rd” and “Rockaway Beach”).
The St Albans stoner goth posse were in full effect at this gig. One of the things which put me off drugs as a teenager was that they seemed to make people really boring. I swear I spent whole afternoons sitting around while people argued over whose turn it was to skin up. And then talked bollocks to each other.
They were OK people despite all that – some of them let my mate Wal camp in their garden for a whole summer when he fell out with his parents. Plus it was good to widen the circle of people you traded tapes with. I remember getting a C90 with “Tackhead Tape Time” on one side and Portion Control’s “Psycho Bod Saves The World” on the other, as well as a whole tape of Skinny Puppy. I played the former more often, but Puppy definitely had something going for them.
It’s just a shame that the future gets old so quickly. A quick shonky download of “Cleanse Fold & Manipulate” and “Bites” reveals some cheesy orchestral synths, plodding beats and pantomime growly vocals. And some samples of evangelical preachers and horror film dialogue and all that. Death and War and Disease and stuff, yeah? YEAH? It’s like… WOAH!
Nevertheless this sound proved to be hugely influential with yer Slimelight cyber-goths. In fact you just have to add heavy metal guitars and you have the template for a load of groups which followed – albeit after having passed through the intestines of Trent Reznor. Needless to say, during this process a lot of the more experimental and ambiguous aspects of the original wave of industrial artists got left out.
Meanwhile another branch of industrial would shed any trace of rock music and converge with house and techno… but that’s a different story.
I have no idea who the warm up comedian was – he ranted on and threw raw sausages in the audience. Quite an odd billing.
Skinny Puppy had been heavily hyped in the music press, notably in the Melody Maker as part of Simon Reynolds’ rather dispersed Arsequake “movement”. Much was made of their singer, Ogre, mutilating himself onstage. This seemed to bring the ghouls out, baying for him to do something outrageous.
There were some theatrics with fake blood and masks and possibly a staged vivisection, I can’t really remember. What stays with me is a packed sweaty mosh pit and a pummeling wall of noise and synths.