Puscifer• July 7, 2022• Eccles Theater
Reviewed and Photographed by Kevin Rolfe
To be honest, I’m not quite sure what to say about this concert. The truth is, you really just need to see Puscifer in concert to truly understand that experience. It’s a show unlike anything else I’ve seen. It’s funny, the music sounds great live, but at the same time you’re thinking, “What am I seeing?”. In a good way of course. I had no idea what I was in for, and I will do my best to share my experience.
It was exciting to see that this was a sellout concert at the beautiful Eccles Theater. I could feel the excitement in the foyer of the theater. I’m not sure how often Puscifer tours, or plays Utah at that. But judging by the way the people were reacting it felt like it was a rare thing to have them in town. The merch line was long and but everyone seemed in great spirits.
According to Apple Music, Puscifer is described as “an eclectic-and frequently off color-music and performance-art collective”. I would never have been able to describe this group any better. Puscifer is of course fronted by Maynard James Keenan, lead singer of Tool and A Perfect Circle. I saw a lot of Tool shirts in the audience and I could tell that he was a huge draw. To see him perform in a smaller venue than they might with Tool had to be a huge attraction.
I have to admit, the person I was most excited to see was Carina Round. I’ve had the opportunity of seeing her multiple times performing with Tears for Fears on their tours. You should do yourself a favor and YouTube her singing “Woman in Chains” with the band. It’s exceptional. She has an amazing voice. There were a few times in this show where she was able to show it off. She and Keenan’s voices blended well and their characters countered each other well. She played a more stoic persona while he was much more of an outlandish character.
Mat Mitchell filled out the core lineup of Puscifer. A well respected producer and songwriter, Mitchell was all over the stage playing synth, and guitar. I’m not sure how often Mat plays live outside of Puscifer but I kept thinking it must be so fun to be out of the studio and on the stage with the band.
The band was dressed in black suits with black ties and sunglasses. They resembled agents from the film Men in Black. The majority of their set came from their most recent album Existenstial Reckoning in which they played all 12 songs from the album. No one seemed to mind. Each time a song would begin the crowd would cheer.
Carina Round and Maynard James Keenan worked so well together. Both vocally and visually. Crossing each other on stage or moving together, the entire show seemed carefully but effectively blocked. They were often joined by dancers that were either dressed as Mat or as aliens. Watching Carina dance with a bunch of Mat’s was both hilarious and impressive. Watching Maynard dance with a bunch of aliens was one of the highlights. This show was so weird. I couldn’t take my eyes off of the stage.
The band played “The Humbling River”. This is arguably Puscifer’s biggest hit. The crowd response would indicate that it is. Just as we got comfortable seeing Puscifer performing as secret agents, the band stepped away for an Intermission. This was a little surprising because we were already about an hour and twenty minutes into the show. I thought we were about to wrap things up. I wasn’t sure what was to follow was nothing like I had predicted. First off, while it was an intermission, it was more like a lengthy encore. The band returned from the break to play about 20-25 minutes. The show in total ran just under two hours. Maynard returned to the stage and this time looked completely different than his previous Men in Black with red lipstick look.
Maynard James Keegan walked out dressed like a stand up comic from the 70s. Mullet, beige jumpsuit and all. It’s the look he had in the “Bullet Train to Iowa” video. Which was the song they played to start of the post Intermission part of the concert. Totally different persona. I gotta hand it to Keegan. He was totally committed to these characters. He was cracking the audience up with his off colored jokes and comments. The band followed “Bullet Train to Iowa” with, “Vagina Mine” and “The Conditions of My Parole”.
The night ended with what is probably my favorite song off of Existential Reckoning which is appropriately the last album on the album, “Bedlamite”. This was a “no phones” show. I was told that if anyone was caught taking video even once they’d get the boot. I actually really liked this. It was nice not having a phone in my face, but also nice not thinking, “Oh I gotta video this song!”. Why do we do that? I’m totally guilty of it too. But it turns out it’s so much better without. However for “Bedlamite” Maynard told the audience it was ok to take video of this song. It’s funny, if you look on YouTube and type in “Puscifer Live 2022”, pretty much all of the videos are of “Bedlamite”.
This was a strange and unique piece of performance art. I’ll be honest, I wish I was able to explain this show better. It was so one of a kind that I just don’t have the ability. You just need to find a way to see this band live. Even if you don’t know much of their music. It’s an experience you won’t forget.
Bread and Circus
Bullet Train to Iowa
Conditions of My Parole
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