November 24, 2015 Puscifer Fascinate Terminal 5 NYC 11-17-15
With one of the most unique voices in Rock today, Maynard James Keenan just released his third full-length album with his band Puscifer on October 30th, entitled Money Shot. While most fans of his may know him best for his work with the Grammy Award winning band Tool, and for his work with A Perfect Circle, more and more of them are getting hooked on Puscifer. Introduced to audiences with their EP in 2007, Don’t Shoot The Messenger, the band followed up with two other full-length albums and several other EP’s that included unreleased songs, remixes of their own songs, and even a few covers. Marking their first studio album in four years with Money Shot, Puscifer celebrate with a new tour which kicked off on November 1st with a slew of locations visited in the month plus trek.
With that in mind, a Puscifer show is not a typical concert experience, it is a unique melding of a theatrical event and a Rock concert. A unique talent himself, Keenan has been known to dress, and act, as the many different characters that Puscifer has introduced their fans to over the years. That is why excitement surrounds the latest tour, and when it came time to visit New York City on Tuesday November 17th, many could not contain themselves. It was a rather cool Autumn evening in The Big Apple, and as the doors opened to Terminal 5, fans filled the venue adorned in open jackets showing their Puscifer, A Perfect Circle, and Tool t-shirts. As the floor and the two upper tiers of the venue were filling to its capacity, you could hear chatter of conversations of who saw what shows, by which band, and when. Fans were not only reminiscing of Tool shows from as far back as the 1990s, or A Perfect Circle shows they had seen, but they were also fondly remembering experiences from the last time Puscifer toured for the release of Conditions Of My Parole in 2011. In fact, the last time Puscifer came to the New York City area was back in November 2011, where they played at the Brooklyn Academy Of Music, so some would say this was a long time coming.
The opening act was Luchafer, which was a wrestling act, not a musical act at all. For this interesting opening, there was a full size ring set up center stage where two Lucha Libre tag teams, one male team (Luchadores) and one female team (Luchadoras), wrestled over a key to the jail. This is a form of professional wrestling that originated in Mexico and the wrestlers wear colorful masks to hide their faces. Not completely unfamiliar to Puscifer fans, most first saw the relation of the band and Lucha Libre in the video released in September 2014 for the song “Toma.” For the performance, Luchafer was not completely void of music as a Puscifer driven backbeat was provided over the PA system during the matches. Music also played during the occasional dancing party breaks where the Lucha Libre were given drinks by another Luchadore, who not only acted as a waiter during the party breaks, but joined in on the final wrestling match at the end and won the trophy key. The audience enjoyed the fun, action packed, half hour of wrestling and mayhem, but 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.
In the blink of an eye, the stage went dark. The drum kit 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. Major Douche instructed the audience to listen to his instructions carefully! 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. It was a drunken Billy D rambling on as he does. In the shadows on the stage, Carina Round (Vocals/Guitar/Mandolin/Banjo), Mat Mitchell (Guitar), Jeff Friedl (Drums), Paul Barker (Bass), and Mahsa Zargaran (Keys) all took to their instruments. The band began to play as Billy D rambled on; they played the instrumentation that plays behind Keenan’s spoken word on the recorded version of “Simultaneous” on Money Shot. Upon the conclusion of the video, Keenan and Round climbed up into the ring and side-by-side took to their places at the microphones, and now the song “Simultaneous” was in full swing. With the stage lights up, but the video screens now off, it was evident that the show would continue with the Lucha Libre theme as Keenan, Friedl, and Barker were all wearing the masks. Adding to the theatrics, Round had blacked out her eyes in place of the mask. Barker did take off his mask before the second song “Galileo,” with the Lucha Libre wrestling team back out on stage. They 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. Then just like that, Keenan abruptly said a quick “Hello New York!” before quickly moving into another song from the new release, “Agostina.”
The main video screen behind the band showed a sign that said Act 1. Now illuminated again, the video screen aired a small picture framed vision of black and white static as they brought the audience to more familiar territory with “Vagina Mine” off of 2007’s “V” Is For Vagina. The screen behind the ring that Keenan and Round occupied remained with the picture frame, but now showed dust whirling in the wind as they played “Horizons” off of 2011’s Conditions Of My Parole. This was followed by a blaze of cheers that matched the flames shown on the huge full size video screen during the song “The Arsonist.” Highly visual, next the video showed beautiful multi-colored lights reflecting off of what appeared to be water, along with glimpses of one of the young members of The Flying Caliente Brothers (as seen in the “Toma” video) holding a sling shot pointed at the audience during the newer song “The Remedy.”
Then there was Act 2 showed on the screen, and brief break gave way to another wrestling match on the stage. With an off white background, multiple red hand-drawn Lucha Libre masks appeared on the screens for “Life Of Brian (Apparently You Haven’t Seen)” as 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 say, “Now for the great Carina Round” and the band went into the “V” Is For Vagina cut “Rev 22:20.” Round sang this song alone as Keenan stepped back into the far corner of the ring while scenes of space and flying saucers played on the screens. Giving her a chance to shine, Keenan rejoined Round and then took the audience on a journey to the Arizona desert with “Grand Canyon.” Midway through, as Zargaran jammed away on the chaotic beeps, Keenan and Round swayed away in one of their visual dances and the audience cheered away loudly.
Taking the tone down a little during Act 2, they played “Polar Bear” off of 2009’s “C” is for (Please Insert Sophomoric Genitalia Reference Here). Bringing it back up, they did “Breathe” from their 2013 EP Donkey Punch The Night, but unlike the studio recording, the live version was raw. With that, Keenan held nothing back and when the lines “Don’t forget to breathe” were sung, he lets it all go on, reaching deep inside to guttural depths, and it was absolutely thrilling to hear.
Moving along and keeping fans curiosity wandering, Act 3 appeared on the screen, but this time it was not a wrestling match during the brief intermission, it was a cock fight. Soon after, Keenan and Round returned to the main ring and they broke into “Toma” from Conditions Of My Parole. An unmasked Keenan, wearing sunglasses, shot lasers out on his eyes on the video screens for “Telling Ghosts” before the band then packed a serious punch and played “Money Shot.” As “Man Overboard” began to play, the audience went wild, screaming with hands flailing high in the air as visions of laser gun toting individuals fighting Godzilla appeared. Performing “The Undertaker” a familiar scene from the last tour for Conditions Of My Parole displayed. Adding to the drama, bright lights shined out over the audience every time Friedl took to the heavy drumbeat of the song.
The video screens now off, Keenan exclaims, “What the fuck is wrong with you?” Then laughed before saying, “Seriously, thank you very much for coming out tonight!” He continued, “I assume that most of you paid to get in tonight, some of you didn’t. I respect the oddity of the show, I ask that you do the same! I see some of you with your cell phones up, don’t post this online! Don’t ruin it for others!” Keenan then introduced the band members in the order of Zargaran, Barker, Friedl, Mitchell, then Round. He thanked Luchafer for their presence and then simply stated, “Thank you and Good Night.” The cheering not to the roar of his liking, he said it again, this time the audience’s cheers were deafening. With that, Keenan and Round returned to the ring to close out the night with two more songs off Money Shot,“Smoke and Mirrors” and “Autumn.” Once the final song was over, the stage lights were lit white, clearly showing the stage as Keenan and the band waved farewell to New York City.
The show was an amazing experience of theatrics, music, and wrestling. This is definitely one show not to be missed as the songs were all played to perfection with each note right on point. Keenan’s vocals were astonishingly brilliant as Round added her own flare with her unique and vibrant tone. Respecting Keenan’s wish to keep this bizarre show a mystery until one actually sees it with their own two eyes, the Money Shot tour will continue throughout the United States until December 14th. Being that this current Puscifer tour is advertised as The Money Shot Tour, Round 1, that leaves fans with hopes that a Round 2 may be possible in the coming year, so expect the unexpected.