April 15, 2016 Puscifer Captures The Paramount Huntington, NY 4-9-16
With one of the most unique and unmistakable voices in Rock today, Maynard James Keenan continues to mesmerize listeners with his band Puscifer. While most know him for his work with the Grammy Award winning band Tool, or for his work with A Perfect Circle, more of them are getting hooked on Puscifer, who released their third studio album Money Shot back in October of 2015. Since touring in support of his previous releases, it has become a well-known fact that a Puscifer show is not a typical concert experience. In fact, it has a reputation as a unique blending of a theatrical event and a Rock concert where fans can never be too sure what to expect, but they know they can expect to see a good show.
Now continuing the Money Shot tour into 2016, Puscifer are attracting more fans out to venues across the USA to see what they are all about. With that in mind, the last time Puscifer came to the New York City area was just this past November when they played at Terminal 5 in New York City for Round 1 of the Money Shot Tour, and they played to a completely packed house. Just a few months later, they made their way east of Manhattan and visited The Paramount in Huntington Village on Long Island on Saturday April 9th. Marking their first visit to the venue, it was a cold and rainy Spring day, cold enough to possible bring snow showers, but that did not stop a mass of eager fans from lining up outside prior to doors opening. Once the doors opened, everyone quickly filled the venue as the audience ranged from teenagers to fans in their fifties and beyond, ready to partake in the lavish experience known as Puscifer.
Proving the tour is not A-typical, the supporting act was Luchafer, a wrestling act, and not music at all. To give those a bit puzzled a backstory as to why, Puscifer fans first saw the relation of the band and Lucha Libre in the video released in September 2014 for the song “Toma.” For those still confused, Lucha Libre is a form of professional wrestling that originated in Mexico where the wrestlers wear colorful masks to hide their faces. With all that explained, there was a full size wrestling ring set up center stage where two Lucha Libre tag teams, each team consisting of one male (Luchadore) and one female (Luchadora) wrestled over a key to a jail.
The act was not completely void of music though as a Puscifer driven back beat was provided over the PA system during the matches. Music also played during the occasional dancing party breaks, when all the stage lighting would shine completely red, and the Lucha Libre tag teams were given drinks by another Luchadore. This wrestler not only acted as a waiter during the party breaks but joined in on the final wrestling match and ultimately took the trophy jail key. The audience enjoyed the fun, action packed, half hour of wrestling and mayhem. Although the real treat was for those who bought VIP tickets to the show; those fans were actually on stage watching the match ringside on two small bleachers.
Then, with little time lapse, within the wink of an eye, the stage went dark. The drum set that was set to the side of the stage during the opening act was rolled out center stage, right in front of the wrestling ring. A video of Keenan, in the character of Major Douche, played on two small video screens to the right and left of the stage. He mostly said to leave their cell phones in their pockets, no photos or videos are to be taken or they risk being escorted out of the venue! He also said that this is the best way to enjoy the show and minimize distractions. After Major Douche finished his speech, another of Keenan’s characters, Billy D, came on screen and rambled on in place of Keenan’s spoken word as on the recorded version of “Simultaneous” on Money Shot. Keenan did not do the spoken word live, this video replaced that.
Meanwhile, in the darkness Mat Mitchell (Guitar), Jeff Friedl (Drums), Paul Barker (Bass), and Mahsa Zargaran (Keyboards/Guitar) all came on stage and took to their instruments. The band began to play as Billy D rambled on. Once the video was over, Keenan and Carina Round came out on stage, taking places on the stage just behind Friedl to either side of him; now the song “Simultaneous” was in full swing. With the stage lit in a deep blue and the video screens completely off, Keenan and Round climbed into the ring to sing the next song, side by side in the darkness. It was evident that the show would continue with the Lucha Libre theme as Keenan, Friedl, and Barker were all wearing the masks, however, Barker took his mask off before the second song, “Galileo,” another off of Money Shot. This is all while The Lucha Libre wrestling team also came back out on stage, and would remain a part of the show throughout Puscifer’s performance, as they would spar, wrestle, and sway to the music, in place of dancers. Continuing in the dimly lit room, they played another song from the new release in the form of “Agostina.”
At this time, the main video screen behind the band showed a sign that said “Act 2,” and soon after, a quick wrestling match broke out on the floor of the stage. Leaving the audience unsure what would happen next, Keenan and Round came down from the ring and sat on the bleachers to watch the wrestling, but as soon as it was over they returned to their places on the stage to bring the audience a little ways back in Puscifer’s history with “Vagina Mine” off of 2007’s “V” Is For Vagina. The visual transitioned to dust whirling in the wind as they played “Horizons” before “The Arsonist.” All quite attention grabbing, the screen morphed into showing beautiful multi-colored lights reflecting off of what appeared to be rippling water, and mid song a beautiful silhouette of Round could be seen as she played guitar during “The Remedy.”
This led into “Act 3,” which gave away to another wrestling match on the stage. This time, all the band members sat on the bleaches to enjoy the match, but before the match was over, Keenan encouraged to audience to clap for the wrestlers and they gladly complied. Again, Keenan and Round then returned to the ring and the large video screen came back on, showing more Lucha Libre themes for “Life Of Brian (Apparently You Haven’t Seen).” It was at this time Friedl let loose and his drumbeats rocked the entire venue as it was felt from foot to head. Once the song was over, Keenan took a brief moment to announce, “Miss Carina Round,” and the band went into “Rev 22:20” as she sang solo while Keenan stepped back to give her the spotlight. Rejoining Round at the microphone, they took the audience on a journey to the Arizona desert with “Grand Canyon.” Midway through the song, as Zargaran jammed away on the chaotic beeps, Keenan and Round swayed away, doing one of their awkward, yet sensual, dances and the audience cheered away loudly.
With Keenan and Round on stage and out of the ring, they continued the set with “The Rapture” while Barker held down a heavy back-beat as Zargaran played guitar, jamming away and accenting Mitchell’s parts. Taking the show to the next level, they did “Breathe,” and unlike the recorded version of this song, the live version was raw and Keenan’s voice was so full of power. In fact, Keenan held nothing back, and when the lines “Don’t forget to breathe” were sung towards the end, he just lets it all go, reaching deep inside to guttural depths, it was thrilling and the crowd went wild.
Then it was time for “Act 4,” but the supporting act was not a wrestling match, it was a cock fight. A small ring was brought out on stage and Keenan and Round carried out two mechanical roosters and put them in the small ring. The band and wrestlers surround the small ring to watch the fight, and while it was not clear which rooster won, it was a fun moment. Following the staged fight, the band return to their instruments and broke into “Toma” from Conditions Of My Parole as Comic Book style cartoon Lucha Libre were viewed on the screens. Revealed, an unmasked Keenan wearing sunglasses, shooting lasers out on his eyes that could be seen on the video screens for “Telling Ghosts” before, treated the audience to iTunes exclusive track “Flippant.”
Still having everyone’s undivided attention, grabbing a megaphone and jumping on the front edge of the ring while clinging to the ropes, Keenan sang the title track of “Conditions Of My Parole.” Slowly finding his way to the inside of the ring as the song progressed, the audience was cheering away loudly, enjoying this fun rendition. The band then packed a serious punch and played “Money Shot,” and as soon as “Man Overboard” began, the audience went wild. When the part “all hands on deck” came about, the house lights came on and Keenan, along with Round, encouraged the audience to all raise their hands, and all that could be seen was a sea of hands in the air.
Once “Man Overboad” concluded, all the lighting and video screens went dark and just the bleachers on the stage were lit. Keenan then stood up and said, “Thank you for coming out. Make sure you take care of the bartenders, they not only put up with your crazy shit, but ours too!” He then thanked and introduced Luchafer. He took time to introduce each band member starting with “Mahsa Zargaran of Omniflux,” then “Paul Barker of Ministry,” then “My partner in vocals, Miss Carina Round,” then “Writer, producer, doppelganger and friend, I couldn’t do it without him, Mat Mitchell.” Then he said, “And last but not least, the inventor of The Scorpion System … from the Beta Machine, Ashes Divide, Devo and A Perfect Circle, Jeff Friedl.”
Continuing to engage with dialogue, Keenan then asked Friedl to show off his Scorpion System and Friedl gets up and walks over to an open spot on the stage, does a couple of lame karate style kicks and the audience broke out in laughter, as well as himself and everyone on stage. Keenan concluded with, “Thank you very much! See you again soon!” The wrestlers then stood up and encouraged the fans to cheer, they yelled and screamed so loud it was deafening ,and in between the screams you could hear female fans throughout the venue shouting, “I love you Maynard!”
Without leaving the stage, the band members returned to their instruments for an encore of two songs. With just simple blue stage lighting, barely illuminating the band, and smoke bellowing from the side of the stage, white lights would accent Keenan and Round as they played “The Humbling River” before they closed with final cut “Autumn.” Officially concluded, Keenan and the band members waved to the audience while Round blew kisses. As everyone was leaving the stage, Keenan walked over to the cock fighting ring, bent over and took one of the roosters, departing from the stage in a fashion only he can.
To say Puscifer’s show was an amazing experience of music, theatrics, and wrestling is an understatement. The songs were all played to perfection with each note right on point while Keenan’s vocals were astonishingly brilliant and Round added her own flare with her unique and vibrant tone. The Money Shot Tour Round 2 will continue throughout the United States until May 1st, then they will continue on with an international tour from May 30th to June 19th. This is definitely one show not to be missed, so be sure to catch the experience as soon as possible.