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11 November 2009

On Tour With Puscifer
Seattle, Moore Theatre

Set List:
Rev. 22:20
Drunk with Power
Indigo Children
Mamma Sed
Vagina Mine
Polar Bear
Sour Grapes
Queen B
The Mission
The Humbling River

Review by Cathleen Robertson at Melophobe

Puscifer’s “V is for Viagra” tour came to the historic Moore Theater in Seattle on November 11, 2009, an intimate setting with a little over 1,400 seats.

SweetHead opened the evening with eight songs, most of them sounding identical. The lead singer has a great gravelly voice a la Kim Carnes, but she shouts through her songs and needs work on her stagecraft.

Maynard James Keenan appeared on a large video screen inside a tent, appearing to be confused that he was still in Seattle. Like a good egg, he agreed to do one more show for us and the rest of the band got up out of their sleeping bags, lit the BBQ, and made their way to their instruments.

Yes, I said tents and sleeping bags. Camp chairs. Bottles of Chupacabra wine. And a BBQ. OK it had a Disney-esque flame, but it’s the thought that counts.

And the thoughts in the Tool front-man’s head is what we were treated to for about a two-hour show, complete with video billboards, visitors drifting on and off the stage, and Talking–Heads style monitors scattered at all angles. If you like Tool or APC, you will love Puscifer, and if you haven’t gotten around to listening to either of the former, Puscifer is a grand introduction to Keenan’s genius. This show had material from the two already-released albums and selections from their upcoming offering.

Throughout this tour, the props and band members change, but tonight Ted Alexander, Matt Mitchell, Johnny Polonski, and Jeffrey Brooks did the honors. Every few songs or so, a video interlude played that asked the burning question: “What Is A Puscifer?”

Keenan’s voice is a classic, able to project thought and emotion while leading listeners deeper into the tracks. Powerful anthem songs “DoZo” and “The Undertaker” took full advantage of the acoustics at the Moore, especially when Alexander let loose on the kettle set.

I didn’t catch the name of the female vocalist onstage tonight, but she and Keenan stood behind monitors that projected them at the mics so the effect was that of a giant video head and a normal sized body standing below. Although that was disconcerting, it lent a techno air to the retro stage props and actually worked out all right.

I’m the type of music fan who can listen to a good musical score, but if the lyrics don’t make sense or are just stupid, I won’t download it. There were no negatives to the music from Puscifer: lots of bass and drums and an orchestral feeling to the keyboard work made songs like “The Mission” and “Queen B” a pure listening pleasure, but the lyrics are satirical enough to satisfy the alternative/industrial poet in anyone, and both of those songs are definitely in my playlists now.

“The Humbling River” closed the show, and is a compelling plea for peace laced between hypnotic drums and guitar with dynamic harmonies. Afterwards, the audience was treated to copies of V Is For Vagina CDs and if there was anyone who wasn’t convinced that they had already scored with this small-venue extravaganza, this should have done it.

I’ve seen Tool in concert and loved them, but this show made Keenan seem somehow more personal and responsive to the audience. If this is the kind of project that he does between Tool albums, me and those other 1400+ fans will be just fine with that.

And yes, Tim Alexander in a Little Red Riding outfit is funny.

Photos by Jared Froiland
Only photos showing Carina are featured here
Additional photos from the show can be seen at the above review link

Review at Snow Demon

Saw Puscifer at The Moore theater last night. Best concert I’ve ever seen. Bar none. And I’ve seen a hell of a lot of concerts in the last 20 odd years. Most blur together. This one was exceptional.

For one thing, I’ve always thought The Moore was the perfect sized venue. It holds about 1400 people, so not too big, and the acoustics are excellent. Then, there is the simple fact that Maynard is awesome. Yes, he inspires awe. I’ve been a fan since the first Tool video hit MTV in the early 90s. I was out of the loop and learned about A Perfect Circle after it was already over, but love all the music he did there too. Now there is Puscifer. His best work yet. This man is a brilliant songwriter and musician, imo. His music contains an emotional range that few are able to clearly express. And he doesn’t take himself too seriously. There is plenty of humor in there too. I’ve heard him compared to Trent Reznor, and I can see why, but I would put Maynard one notch above Trent simply because of the humor. Trent doesn’t have that.

Anyway, back to the show. The sound was exquisite by “live show” standards. You can hear it in the live tracks on the new EP that was just release a couple weeks ago (”C” is for… (Please Insert Sophomoric reference to Genitalia here)). And there is a cleverness to the fact there are already at least 3 version of every song out there. For every other concert I’ve been to, there is an album, and you know the songs already, and you know exactly what they are “suppose to” sound like, and you expect them to sound that way live, and they try to do that, and they fail, partly sound quality, and partly human error. So, here you don’t know which version they will play, and then, when they play a new version that you’ve never heard before, it’s made fresh and new, and you’re not surprised because it’s already a known quantity.

Then there are the details, like the big screen with odd animated clips that are different during every song, and the little screen which he and the female singer (I suck with names) stand behind, camera with fish eye lens right in their faces and so you see them, a bit too big and distorted, right in front of where they stand. Maynard like to gesticulate wildly back there, which is quite amusing. There are sometime couches on stage, but here there were camp chairs, they had a camping theme, you see, and the musicians not currently playing, or sometimes the folks from the opening act, would come out and sit and sip wine, and hang out, And the video clips or sketches that happened on the big screen every 2 or three songs, like “Off the grid with Dick Mirkin”, or baking cookies with Hitler. Damn funny. And finally, there was the arrival of Tim Alexander, percussionist, in a “little red riding hood” costume, complete with skimpy skirt. Wow. Just wow. I think you have to be a real man to come out on stage in that kind of outfit. Especially when no one else was in a costume of any kind. (Here’s his Twitter post from the stage last night.)

All this blather is just testimonial to the awesomeness that is Puscifer.

Photos by Snow Dragonwyck
Additional photos from the show can be seen at the link