It was a night for industrial legends in Dallas, TX. German pioneers KMFDM, promoting their 20th album Hell Yeah, and Canada’s Nivek Ogre (of Skinny Puppy), performing with his solo band Ohgr, delighted the rivethead’s on hand with excellent sets that proved that their enduring careers are owed to quality, not nostalgia. It would have been easy for KMFDM to power through a greatest-hits set or for Ogre to drop a couple of solo tracks among the better songs from the Skinny Puppy catalog. But, neither act had any intention of going through the motions and cashing in on their audiences fondest memories of high school or college. This is because both groups have always been artists, first and foremost. Artists who challenge the proverbial “system.” Artists who find inspiration with moving forward instead of revisiting the past.
Ohgr Performs at Gas Monkey Live, Dallas, TX. Photo by J. Kevin Lynch.
Drawing on material from his four solo albums, Nivek Ogre, and his band Ohgr, were in top form. Playing for roughly 50-minutes, his band of a drummer, keyboardist, and two guitar players (one switching between guitar and bass), were in lock-step as they worked their way through the set. Less familiar with the Ohgr material than I am with Skinny Puppy, I was nevertheless fixated on both Mr. Ogre’s performance and the songs played. My initial thoughts during the show were that they didn’t sound very loud. But, loudness should never be mistaken for power. And the band knocked out a great set. It was pleasing to see the rest of the crowd respond positively to the opening notes of several songs that I didn’t personally recognize. Indeed, Ogre has paved his own way beyond the confines of Skinny Puppy and the response from the crowd reflected as much. Singing into two microphones, Ogre strutted, danced, and probably smiled more often than you might expect. Indeed, he and his band seemed to be having a great time and they did nothing less than rock the fuck out. Ohgr has a new album, Tricks, on the horizon and I’m hopeful that the band rolls through Dallas again on a headlining tour.
Led by founding member Sascha Konietzko and vocalist Lucia Cifarelli, KMFDM took the stage a little after 10pm. Backed by a drummer and a guitarist, the duo charged their way through a great set that saw several tracks from their new album (“Total State Machine,” “Freak Flag,” “Murder My Heart,” “Glam Glitz Guts & Gore”) alongside classic songs over half a dozen of their other albums (“D.I.Y.,” “A Drug Against War,” “Amnesia,” “Animal Out”). The mohawked Sascha and pig-tailed Lucia were poised at podiums in the center of the stage that were adorned with a microphone and a sequencer. They traded lead vocal duties and when one wasn’t singing the other was twisting knobs, dancing, or bobbing their heads along to the music. Unfortunately, the other musicians were often lost behind the light show. At times, it seemed like a two person show. Ohgr’s set, that relied less on flashing lights and backdrop graphics, benefited from the energy the band brought to the stage. Still, KMFDM gave the crowd their money’s worth.
The crowd seemed considerably more mobile during the KMFDM set than Ohgr. There was a minor mosh pit, a lone crowd surfer, but some legitimate dancing from first song to last. Konietzko engaged the crowd a couple of times between songs, but for the most part the band was focused on the music and kept the “what’s up Dallas?” to a minimum. Perhaps owing to the quality of their newest album, each song was met with near the same level of enthusiasm. Often, the new tracks are opportunities for members of the audience to hit the bathroom or grab another drink; whereas the classic tracks are met with fervor. Of course, the newer songs aren’t a huge departure from the classic back-catalog and the set flowed seamlessly.
KMFDM and Ohgr is a great double-bill. There’s a dozen dates left on this tour and if they’re coming to your town you should be there. There’s more than three decades of history that these artist draw on, but it’s more than just the number of songs they could possibly play, it’s the tours they’ve done over their history that gives them a confidence and swagger newer bands have yet to develop. Both KMFDM and Ohgr know how to perform, to give the crowd what they want, and to guarantee that no one goes home disappointed.
– J. Kevin Lynch
KMFDM & Ohgr Tour Dates
10/15 — Houston, Tex. @ White Oak Music Hall
10/17 — Tucson, Ariz. @ The Rialto Theatre
10/18 — Tempe, Ariz. @ Marquee Theatre
10/19 — Las Vegas, Nev. @ Fremont Country Club
10/20 — San Diego, Calif. @ House of Blues
10/21 — Los Angeles, Calif. @ TBD
10/22 — San Francisco, Calif. @ The Regency Ballroom
10/24 — Salt Lake City, Utah @ Metro Music Hall
10/25 — Denver, Colo. @ Summit Music Hall
10/26 — Omaha, Neb. @ The Waiting Room
10/27 — St. Paul, Minn. @ Amsterdam Bar and Hall
10/28 — Milwaukee, Wis. @ The Rave II