Photos by Mike Rosati // Written by Scotland Miller //
The current tour from the musical collective known as Puscifer has taken yet another step in redefining what it means to attend a concert. The band has a real knack for putting on a show. Whether it be a storyline-driven, sketch-comedy act combined with tongue-in-cheek country renditions of their songs or a campground setting in the desert complete with lawn chairs, a barbecue and an Airstream van, Puscifer never fail to disappoint when it comes to a live performance. Where else would you expect to see Mexican Luchador wrestlers on stage during a concert?
In support of their third full-length release entitled Money Shot, Maynard James Keenan and friends have established themselves as not just a group of musicians who play songs on stage, but rather an assemblage of entertainers that provide their viewers and fans with something they may not have ever seen before — a true experience. Paying homage to the likes of Alice Cooper, Pink Floyd and the glory days of the rock opera, Puscifer have a very special way of combining their music with a stage show that offers so much more than just music.
Many artists choose to dedicate the opening act to another band. On this tour, Puscifer are giving the spotlight to a group of masked wrestlers known as Luchafer, with one male and one female wrestler per team duking it out in their respective colored capes and spandex. It was the red team against the blue team, though there was also one roaming fighter dressed all in black who seemed to fight for himself. They punched and kicked and suplexed each other off of the top ropes of an on-stage wrestling ring as the crowd at The Fox Theater cheered and clapped while bodies were hurled to and fro. The tag-team battle lasted for about 30 minutes while the theater filled with a sold-out crowd. The stage setup, complete with small bleachers on either side, provided a unique feel to the rest of the night.
As is customary with Puscifer shows in years past, the evening started with a comical video presentation from Keenan’s onstage character “Major Douche,” who expressed his distaste for “hashtag hippiepunks,” aka people who drive below posted the speed limit in addition to the typical anti-photography/video demand for the evening. This gave way to another video of beloved character “Billy D” lining up shots of tequila and burying his nose in a pile of cocaine while rambling on about the evolution of man. The diffuse rumblings were accompanied by Jeff Friedl (The Beta Machine, A Perfect Circle) on the drum kit as the show opened with the song “Simultaneous”. The lights came up to reveal Keenan and vocalist Carina Round taking their places in the wrestling ring with their retro microphone stands and matching navy blue suits. In tribute to the ongoing theme of the night, Keenan was his usual covert and enigmatic self, dawning his own luchador mask with his scraggly mohawk jutting out from the top.
The remaining members of the band — Mat Mitchell on lead guitar, Paul Barker (Ministry) on bass and Mahsa Zargaran (Omniflux) on keyboards — were scattered beside them. “Galileo” and “Agostina” followed as the luchadors slowly made their way back to the stage, enticing the crowd and continuing their battles with each other throughout the night. The stage was definitely full of activity but never felt overcrowded or overstimulated, even with the lights and projections behind the stage. Overall, everything worked together very cohesively and complemented each other in a way that only Puscifer could achieve.
The setlist consisted mostly of material from the 11-track Money Shot, but it also served as a great representation of Puscifer’s body of work over the last eight years. A few highlights of the night included new songs “The Arsonist” and “The Remedy” being paired together, the rarely-ever-played-live versions of “Polar Bear” and “Breathe” and lastly the ribcage-rattling combination of “Money Shot”, “Man Overboard” and “The Undertaker”. And oh yeah, let’s not forget about the miniature, remote-controlled cock-fighting ring in the third act. Yes, you read that right: miniature, remote-controlled cock fighting.
Before the encore of “The Humbling River” and “Autumn”, the earlier message from “Major Douche” was revisited. Keenan asked the crowd to embrace what they had seen that night and implored us all to not ruin it for others by spewing pictures and videos captured from their cellphones all over the Internet (although he said nothing about writing descriptive reviews). He echoed the legendary words from one of J. R. R. Tolkien’s great characters and asked us to protect this special evening to only those who witness it with their own eyes.
“Keep it secret. Keep it safe.” Those were his words.
Life of Brian (Apparently You Haven’t Seen)
Smoke and Mirrors
The Humbling River