Rochester,Michigan (July 1,2022)-The ever evolving and undefinable supergroup Puscifer are a hard act to quantify, their mix of electronic tinged industrial rock with a theatrical satire row is unconfined, elastic and multi-dimensional. And while their discography is formidable, the personal side project formed by Tool / A Perfect Circle frontman Maynard James Keenan needs to be seen live to truly get the full immersive experience.
The general consensus amongst those who have seen this act early on is to expect the unexpected. When the five-piece enigmatic troupe touched down upon Meadow Brook Amphitheatre Friday for a planned stop on the Existential Reckoning Tour, their performance did not do anything to quell or dispel that notion.
The eclectic performance began with dual video screens detailing the consequences of recording or using cellular devices during the performance. Delivering this message was one of Maynard’s various personas, Dick Merkin, outlining the effective punishment if caught: a gruesome death in which your physical body will be creatively used for others sustenance, referred to as SPAM. This set the direction for what the audience was about to experience, but by no means indicated how far it would go. What proceeded to unfold was a carefully crafted mix of schtick, extraterrestrial abductions, and the cleverly veiled illusions of some very talented artists. The industrial designed stage setup was continuously morphing, seeming to come alive in shades of reds and blues, propelling fans psyche through each song.
As masters of the arts that they are, Puscifer established a visual persona from the moment the lights began to dim on the sold out venue. If you were expecting idle musicians playing monotonously beneath stagnant lighting fixtures, that’s not what you got. Instead, the core trio of Maynard James Keenan, Carina Round, Mat Mitchell, along with their supporting cast, delivered an otherworldly spectacle of incredible musicianship that evoked infectious nods and smiles throughout the set.
The band’s opening act consisted largely of standout offerings from their latest LP, 2020’s Existential Reckoning. Following the aforementioned SPAM video introduction, “Bread and Circus,” subtly rolls in and kicks the evening off with aplomb. “Postulous,” “Fake Affront” and “The Underwhelming” quickly follow suit with an intriguing vibrance that only a unique selection such as this can achieve in the rock arena. If Puscifer’s most recent release Existential Reckoning showed fans anything about their direction as a band, is that it remains boundless in nature and continues to inject all ends of the musical spectrum into one multi-faceted formula. Proof? “Theorem” and “UPGrade,”the next two hits on the expansive setlist are apt in showing it and meld in to the setlist as if developed for these specifics slots in the performance.
At this point in the ever evolving performance, one could consider the sleepy Meadow Brook Amphitheatre stage a entity of many moving parts, like a hot soundstage or studio during filming. Maynard and Carina transform from act to act to resemble their Billy D, Hildy Berger, Major Douche, and Dick Merkin monikers, fittingly so as they play through different musical eras and their associated . Merkin’s videos play as an intermission in between acts as the band resets and readies for another course of songs and theatrics.
Existential Reckoning continued with another string of choice selections that were layered perfectly throughout the second act. A revolving stanza that included two revered Puscifer gems, “The Remedy” and “The Humbling River,” each of which was welcomed by the many fans who sang along to its moving vocal harmonies and melodies. This second act also distinguishes the two distinct eras that reaffirm Puscifer’s treasure chest of variety among their sonic releases. Another Dick Merkin intermission played once again on the venue’s screens and the third act commenced to the slow burning “Bullet Train To Iowa.” “Conditions of My Parole,” another Puscifer killer cut, continued to build on the burgeoning momentum finally culminating with the brilliant display with Existential Reckoning closing cut “Bedlamite,” putting a exclamation point on the evening’s festivities.
There are very few touring experiences currently with the magnitude of theatrics and sound that Puscifer brings forth. Every one of the three acts and humorous takes coincide with the band’s theatrics and sound and is intentionally made to fit within a broader scope of the overall narrative. What once was live luchadors on previous tours is now a cosmic presentation portrayed by alien guests that make this tour a worthwhile trek through the band’s discography. Daniel Martin Diaz’ cover illustration on Existential Reckoning is novel to look at, so it makes perfect sense that Maynard and Company expand upon the album’s visual identity on stage. This is as tantalizing as a Puscifer show can get, and for those still on the edge of paying a visit to their nearest tour stop, let the gallery of images propel you in the right direction……..You’re welcome.