The twenty first gig I can remember going to

Click here for a complete list of entries in the series  “the first 23 gigs I can remember going to”.

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.


  1. I dunno, Cleanse Fold & Manipulate still manages to get my bootie moving when I listen to it today… but perhaps that’s just nostalgia.

  2. Bit partial to the 2nd side of ‘Last Rights’ still, although haven’t played it for 10 years. In the cupboard somewhere, could probably excavate it…maybe…then again…

  3. Yeah there wasn’t enough *behind* the music for me to obsess over either – the interviews weren’t as interesting as other acts.

    Having said that it was good to hear tracks like “Assimilate” again and I must confess I had a bit of a head nod to that. Perhaps under the right conditions that would blossom into a full booty shake, I dunno! 🙂

  4. Monster Radio Man is a tuuuuuuuune, everything else they’ve done is total rubbish for people who play Dungeons and Dragons.

    Agree in full with your musings in respect of band t-shirts.

  5. Girls seemed to prefer Skinny Puppy to stuff like Whitehouse, so I think this gig was a bit of a no-brainer.

    By the way, I had a Soma Records t-shirt and I’ve never heard one thing on the label. And yes, somebody once brought the subject up, and I didn’t have a clue what they were on about.

  6. Ah you old raver, Martin. I don’t remember there being many girls there in fact, maybe that came later, I dunno? Or maybe I was just down the front moshing in a testosterone fueled bonding frenzy.

  7. Could have been a later thing then, in Slimelight in the mid-90s. Maybe all the industrial/goth girls who fancied Trent Reznor viewed Ogre as his long lost, Kurtz-like mentor, but they’d hit the dancefloor for some serious whiplash whenever Skinny Puppy, Sheep On Drugs or Thrill Kill Kult (ha ha) dropped. Then you realised the DJ wasn’t going to kill the mood by taking any notice of your request for “Slogun” by SPK…still a laugh, though

  8. Living in Vancouver, Skinny Puppy’s home town, gives me a very particular outlook on the band’s aesthetic. Seems to me that their whole shtick is blighted by two consistent factors in Vancouver life:

    1. The fact that the music scene often prioritizes the dressing-up aspect of being in a band over the actual music

    2. The wide availability and relative perceived normality of really, really hard drugs


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