A Skinny Puppy show in 2009 was my Bachelor Party. Let that sink in for a minute. No drinking. No trip to Vegas. No strippers. Not even a bunch of friends sitting around talking about the good old days. Instead, my friend Bryan got me a ticket to see Skinny Puppy because that's what I told him I wanted to do.
My interest in the show was born more from curiosity than nostalgia. I absolutely loved Skinny Puppy for about five years between high school and college and then I sorta moved on. Dwayne died. Only about half of Last Rights stuck with me. My tastes changed.
Some big music magazine (it might have been Rolling Stone) did an article about Skinny Puppy and some of the reasons that they never enjoyed the mainstream success of bands like Nine Inch Nails and Ministry. It was a curious situation. Korn would name drop Skinny Puppy in interviews but somehow the MTV/local mall metalheads never got into them in large numbers. And that was fine with me, because I always appreciated Skinny Puppy's idiosyncracies. Their theatrical approach to live performance inspired me. Their ability to eschew pop song and dance song rules and somehow still create catchy, danceable tracks was second to none.
By 2009, the industrial dance and goth scene was catching its second (or third) wind. Bands who were so heavily influenced by Skinny Puppy that they named themselves after Ogre's song lyrics were drawing crowds. Skinny Puppy, an indisputable original, had spawned a legion of derivatives and it bothered me that the 'scene' didn't seem to care.
The show in Atlanta was pretty fun. The stage design looked like a chaotic junk landscape that must have taken hours to construct each night. The costumes were amazing. In fact, a woman I had met on tour in Detroit made some of them! I was so proud of her. The old songs sounded great--slightly updated but still weirdly simple. The new songs--well, I wasn't a fan but I could see that most people in the crowd enjoyed them.
It was a pretty unconventional Bachelor Party, but I was glad to see the band so many years later and to observe that they were still driven to do a lot of the same things that had made them pioneers. Even if it didn't all work for me at that point, I admired their vision. A year and a half after that show and I was no longer married and no longer living in Atlanta, but damn it, Too Dark Park was still in rotation in my world.