Live Music Review: Puscifer
Author’s Note: I’m sorry this review is so late after the concert. December was very busy with client orders for Christmas. Better late than never, right?
Puscifer, for those who don’t know, is the brainchild of Tool’s frontman, Maynard James Keenan. Along with Mike Patton and Chino Moreno, Maynard is one of my favorite rock vocalists. The band started as a joke on HBO’s Mr. Show back in the 90s but has since become a legitimate musical project. I’d previously seen Maynard’s other acts, Tool and A Perfect Circle, so I was very excited to add the Puscifer notch to my belt.
The show was held at the Ace Theater on December 10th and 11th. I met up with my buddy Dave on a (rare) rainy Thursday night. Parking is always a bit of a challenge in downtown LA, so we met at a lot about half a mile from the theater. I was wearing my John Goodman caricature tee shirt, which you can buy by clicking here or on the image. Dave immediately made a wise-ass comment about it, to which I replied, “Watch this.” On the way to the concert, several people stopped me in the street to make a comment about the shirt, and I was able to give out business cards and make some sales. I also caught a glimpse of Danny Carey on the street on the way into the theater. I’ve never been one to gush, but we gave each other a knowing nod.
The inside of the theater is nothing like the outside. Outside, it looks like all the other buildings. Inside, it’s a beautiful Spanish Gothic style theater. The merch table had a bunch of Mexican wrestling-themed prints and tee shirts. It was cool stuff, but nothing I wanted to buy per se.
Right off the bat, I knew the night’s entertainment was going to be something different. The opening act wasn’t even a musical act. Instead, it was a wrestling troupe called Luchafer. What can I really say about them? I don’t know anything about wrestling, and even less about Mexican wrestling. The troupe consisted of five wrestlers: two male/female teams and a solo male. They wrestled for about 15-20 minutes while the audience grabbed their seats. Some of the stunts were very impressive, but I got a bit bored of it after about 10 minutes. Keep in mind, I’m not a wrestling fan so maybe I’m just missing the appeal. It gave me a chance to chat with the guy next to me, though.
After the wrestling stunts, the lights were lowered and two large TV screens on either side of the stage played a video of Maynard dressed up as an army general, yelling at the audience about conformity and the decline of culture. It was pretty funny, if not super unique. The band came out during the speech, and when the video was done they went right into the new song Simultaneous.
The set up of the stage was unusual. Typically, the drums are in back while the guitars are on either side of the vocalist, who is front-and-center. Puscifer put the drums right in the center of the wrestling ring, while the instruments were scattered haphazardly on stage. I couldn’t even locate the vocalists, at first. Then I noticed a figure wearing a suit and a luchador mask. This was Maynard. He would keep the mask on for the entirety of the show.
The band played mostly newer stuff, as the tour was to promote the new album. (Buy it by clicking my Amazon link.) Each song had a corresponding video playing in the background. A few examples were flaming buildings, and a B-movie space museum. My favorite video, however, was for the song Grand Canyon. The idea was the simplest of the night; the band just played shots of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. However, the video was so beautiful that it enhanced the song and really made you feel the music. My favorite song of the night was The Remedy, as this is my favorite song on the new album. I’ve included the video for your enjoyment.
I was very happy with the setlist overall. As I mentioned, they played mostly new stuff but didn’t skimp on the old. The only song I didn’t get to hear that I was hoping for was Sour Grapes.
The show was broken up into three acts, like a screenplay. Each act was accompanied by a video and another round of Luchafer wrestling. This was my main gripe with the performance. I’m sure some people liked it, but I thought it got a bit tedious and broke up the continuity of the music.
After the show, Maynard berated Los Angeles, which I thought was overkill. We know it’s crowded and polluted, full of fake people. We’re all Tool fans so we’ve heard the song Aenema.
All in all, it was a very unique concert experience, and I’d love to see any of Maynard’s projects again soon. Hopefully Tool’s new album won’t take another five years.
Setlist: Simultaneous | Galileo | Agostina | Vagina Mine | Horizons | The Arsonist | The Remedy | Life of Brian (Apparently You Haven’t Seen) | Rev 22:20 | Grand Canyon | Polar Bear | Breathe | Toma | Conditions of My Parole | Money Shot | Man Overboard | The Undertaker
Encore Set: The Humbling River | Autumn
Setlist: ★★★★ out of 5
Sound: ★★★ out of 5
Energy: ★★★★½ out of 5
Live Performance: ★★★★★ out of 5
Overall: ★★★★ out of 5
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