Walking into Slim’s last night was like entering a black mass. A largely homogenous audience of goths and cyberpunks all staring in eerily silent stillness at a screen projecting black and white footage of images we’d all like to forget, while American Memory Project played concealed behind the screen. It was oddly hypnotic.
It isn’t often that you get to see someone who had such a hand in pioneering an entire genre of music. OhGr is essentially Nivek Ogre, lead singer of Skinny Puppy. Working with other rotating industrial icons from Skinny Puppy and KMFDM, Mark Walk, William Morrison, and Tim Skold, OhGr is touring in support of their third album, Devils In My Details. Ogre has had a hand in influencing many, but in particular he paved the way for Manson, having engineered the mix of industrial music, horror aesthetics, and political undertones.
As the band took the stage, a red cloaked monstrosity emerged from the stairs leading up from the artist’s quarters. Making its way onto the stage, Ogre dropped the red robe, revealing what can only be described as a Matrix meets Predator style monster, partially melted by acid, guts spilling out. This monster was attached to Ogre’s back, and he performed with his back to the crowd. From my perspective, I could see the side of his actual face, which was not real as well. It was covered in a plastic see through mask, making it appear like his mouth wasn’t actually moving along with the words. This was the part that freaked me out…more than the crazy people that threatened me on the street on my way in.
He metaphorically shed the monster on his back, revealing his plastic mask and body partially wrapped up like a mummy. With this visual spectacle, it’s hard to focus on any of the other very capable musicians that were on stage. There’s something about Ogre’s voice that just slices through the beats like a dagger. When he shed his alst layer, the plastic mask, his face was still concealed by intricate black and white face paint.
The vibe of the set was more ominous and dangerous than a lot of shows that bill themselves as much. The sound, the transitions, everything was very smooth as the setlist flowed from track to track, spanning all three albums.
The audience seemed mesmerized into the point of complacency. Everyone was oddly still, or slightly dancing in place, clapping at the end politely. It wasn’t until later in the set that things got amped up…but there was a point where I felt sorry for the band because the audience was so low energy. But perhaps I’m starting to mistake bad behavior for enthusiasm.
It was the best set I’ve seen in a while. While I love Manson and NIN, and have seen both multiple times over the last year and loved every second, there’s a certain amount of audience bullshit that you have to put up with. But that’s because I grew up in that mid nineties industrial pop moment, where the genre was briefly acceptable and commercial. I missed the genesis of the genre by a few years. While I listened to Skinny Puppy and Ministry, it was also more of an afterthought; less a part of my DNA. It’s interesting as I sat there watching, thinking about how this is what a NIN show would be like if Reznor had never written ‘Closer’ or ‘Hurt’. Hmmmm. Same great music minus the douchy jocks that show up.
The only thing that was missing for me is that I wish Tim Skold had been there. I saw him play with Manson last year, and he puts on quite a show.
There was an interesting point at the end of the set where the band uncharacteristically did what looked like a football huddle, presumably making changes to the setlist. This was where I thought we were going to get docked for the docile crowd behavior, but when they came straight out of that and into ‘Water’ (I think), the crowd made it up to them.
We waited a long time for this tour, and it didn’t disappoint.
You can also catch Ogre in Repo! The Genetic Opera in theaters now.
Interview before the Slim’s show with NSTV
Beginning of Slim’s set from maxmin
OhGr performance: 9.5/10
venue (Slim’s): 8.5/10
value ($21/ticket): 9.75/10