Skynd / Gloriously Dark And Sinister In Birmingham

Back in August, I had the chance to photograph Skynd at Bloodstock Festival 2023, headlining the Sophie stage, and I was asked to take a few photos prior. I had never heard of Skynd, but meeting the singer, I instantly knew this was going to be a little bit special. Tonight was a dark, cold, misty night in Birmingham. Perfect for a Skynd gig.

Skynd

O2 Institute, Birmingham – 28 November 2023

Words And Photography: John Inglis

Skynd’s look is unique. The music is dark and sinister. Her mannerisms on stage are built to invoke thought, shock, horror and, at the same time, disbelief. In Skynd’s own words, “our lyrics reach deep, deep down into the sinister abyss of the human soul.” This is precisely what they do.

Skynd - O2 Institute, Birmingham - 28 November 2023
Skynd – O2 Institute, Birmingham – 28 November 2023. Photo: John Inglis/MetalTalk

Choosing the right venue plays a crucial role in enhancing the overall concert experience. Skynd has a penchant for selecting unique and atmospheric locations that add an extra layer of depth to their performances. Whether it’s an abandoned warehouse or an old historical building, their choice of venue sets the stage for an unforgettable night.

The combination of music and the surroundings creates an immersive atmosphere that leaves a lasting impact on the audience.

As I walked the line of hoards of fans outside the O2 Institute, there was plenty with sinister makeup ranging from copycat Skynd’s to corpse paint. This was brilliant to see.

Skynd - O2 Institute, Birmingham - 28 November 2023
Skynd – O2 Institute, Birmingham – 28 November 2023. Photo: John Inglis/MetalTalk

Inside the venue, it’s tightly packed, edge to edge, everyone waiting with anticipation. You could hear small chatter, each trying to guess what makeup and clothes she would be wearing this time.

As the lights dimmed and bathed in green, bassist and drummer Father and Deadbeat walked onto the stage, each bowing before their eager audience. As Skynd entered her domain, the crowd immediately turned the volume up to 11. I must say it felt spine-tingling.

Skynd - O2 Institute, Birmingham - 28 November 2023
Skynd – O2 Institute, Birmingham – 28 November 2023. Photo: John Inglis/MetalTalk

Skynd opens her arms as if to say Yes, I’m here while welcoming the crowd. The deep bass pedal sounds from Father hit your chest, as they opened with the lyrics “When the evening comes and the temperature cools.” The song is Richard Ramirez, the Night Stalker, very apt indeed.

Her powerful yet haunting vocals invoke a sense of unease, keeping the audience captivated throughout right from the get-go. Skynd’s ability to convey the emotional depth of each story through her singing and movement is truly remarkable.

Skynd - O2 Institute, Birmingham - 28 November 2023
Skynd – O2 Institute, Birmingham – 28 November 2023. Photo: John Inglis/MetalTalk

Elisa Lam, the first single Skynd released from Chapter I in 2018, roared out. With childlike vocals in between, it tells the very sad case and, in the eyes of many, an unsolved mystery of this Canadian tourist.

After every song, Skynd bows her head, holds her hand to her heart, and thanks the adoring fans. You can see and hear the respect is mutual. Michelle Carter, who encouraged Conrad Henri Roy III to commit suicide, showed the power of text alone. The booming sound of drummer Deadbeat really makes the hairs on your neck rise.

Skynd - O2 Institute, Birmingham - 28 November 2023
Skynd – O2 Institute, Birmingham – 28 November 2023. Photo: John Inglis/MetalTalk

Skynd’s ability to compose and tell a story is quite incredible. There are few songs these days that provoke real thought. To make a song and compose it entirely of text messages is artistic genius.

My personal favourite was up next, Robert Hanson The Butcher Baker. The huge bass sound from Father and the keyboard suspense he creates are worthy of a Hollywood horror film. The vocal drop on this is very well thought out. This combines to put you in the world of the victims. It is truly spine-chilling. Skynd’s vocal prowess comes to the fore with some superb high-end vocals. An absolute masterpiece of music.

Skynd - O2 Institute, Birmingham - 28 November 2023
Skynd – O2 Institute, Birmingham – 28 November 2023. Photo: John Inglis/MetalTalk

A relatively new song is Bianca Devins, depicting the power and dark corridors of social media. With an offset vocal intro, Skynd seemingly talks to us, setting the tone of what’s to come. Then, cracking into another childlike voice, the rising atmosphere and sound quality emanating from two musicians and an incredible singer is just an eargasm.

The crowd loved this, shouting as loudly as their lungs would allow to the line of “Damn, my neck hurts.” Again, there followed a heartfelt “thank you” from Skynd. Bianca Devins was a young social media influencer who tragically lost her life in a gruesome and disturbing manner.

Aileen Wuornos was a great theatrical piece for drummer Deadbeat. Singing the words “Oh John, oh John” with the crowd singing back was quite surreal, and my name is also John.

Skynd - O2 Institute, Birmingham - 28 November 2023
Skynd – O2 Institute, Birmingham – 28 November 2023. Photo: John Inglis/MetalTalk

Skynd ensures that everyone feels seen and appreciated. This level of fan interaction adds an intimate touch to their performances and leaves a lasting impression on concert-goers.

A break and a sip of water. Skynd puts the mic stand away and returns with a walking stick, limping as she faces the crowd, imitating a circus ringmaster. Enter John Wayne Gacy. A dusky voice intro with robotic flinches entices us into the world of The Killer Clown. Skynd is kicking the air with conviction and bending down on her haunches, pointing to every person from front to back, making sure they are all seen and appreciated. She gave the nod to a single girl at the front, whose makeup was a mirror image of her.

Skynd - O2 Institute, Birmingham - 28 November 2023
Skynd – O2 Institute, Birmingham – 28 November 2023. Photo: John Inglis/MetalTalk

Deep sounds emitted from the PA are akin to being in a huge underground complex, complete with echoes and scuffling, bumps and bangs. You hear the whispers of her voice telling us the way as if she is at the end of this dark, eerie place. Columbine, complete with loading machine gun sounds, builds suspense and tension.

The high-pitched creepy voice Skynd portrayed as she said “ratta ta ta”, emulating machine gun fire, is very disturbing. Standing still as she was marching with real conviction, the beating of the drums made Skynd convulse as if being hit by bullets. The amazing theatrics were just incredible to witness.

Skynd - O2 Institute, Birmingham - 28 November 2023
Skynd – O2 Institute, Birmingham – 28 November 2023. Photo: John Inglis/MetalTalk

The intro to Edmund Kemper is sheer class. Speaking softly, a haunting intro from multi-talented musician Father brings this song to life. Silence follows. Then Boom, Skynd’s high-pitched vocals kick in and take us off to another dark place, ” where they come from.” Again, it was accompanied by loads of singing from the fans.

Another drastic odd vocal change, singing and half-talking us through the intro, and then we have the crescendo “Bang bang, boogie boogie bang bang,” complete with high kicks to accentuate the beats. I was breathless, singing along in my head, let alone trying to keep up with her.

Skynd - O2 Institute, Birmingham - 28 November 2023
Skynd – O2 Institute, Birmingham – 28 November 2023. Photo: John Inglis/MetalTalk

With the set drawing to a close, Gary Heidnik followed. The studio version of this song featured Jonathon Davis from Korn. Tonight, it is Father’s turn again to shine with spooky sounds from his bass pedals and keys. A very soft voice says, “I don’t wanna hurt you,” and you can tell this is very close to Skynd’s heart. You can see the pain in her eyes and facial expressions as she tells you this horrific story of six women. Again, the ‘Skyndicate’ are singing with her.

After a sweet goodbye to Birmingham, Skynd exited while Father and Deadbeat gave out guitar picks, drumsticks and set lists.

One of the defining characteristics of Skynd is their ability to craft intricate narratives that draw from true crime stories. Through their captivating lyrics and haunting melodies, they create an immersive experience for their audience.

Skynd - O2 Institute, Birmingham - 28 November 2023
Skynd – O2 Institute, Birmingham – 28 November 2023. Photo: John Inglis/MetalTalk

This was certainly felt at the O2 Institute in Birmingham. Live, the experience is elevated. Skynd performs all her songs and stories from her amazing memory. Each song takes listeners on a journey through the mind of a criminal or victim, painting a vivid picture of the events that unfolded.

While Skynd explores the darker side of humanity, they approach true crime with a sense of ethics and respect for the victims. Their music does not glorify violence or sensationalise crimes. Instead, they pay homage to the victims and shed light on the devastating impact these crimes have on individuals and society as a whole.

  • Explore More On These Topics:
  • SKYND

Sleeve Notes

Sign up for the MetalTalk Newsletter, an occasional roundup of the best Heavy Metal News, features and pictures curated by our global MetalTalk team.

More in Heavy Metal

Comments

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Search MetalTalk

MetalTalk Venues

MetalTalk Venues – The Green Rooms Live Music and Rehearsal
The Patriot, Crumlin - The Home Of Rock
Interview: Christian Kimmett, the man responsible for getting the bands in at Bannerman's Bar
Cart & Horses, London. Birthplace Of Iron Maiden
The Giffard Arms, Wolverhampton

New Metal News