13 November 2009
On Tour With Puscifer
Vancouver, The Centre for Performing Arts
Review by Alicia-Rae Light at Backstage Vancouver
Maynard James Keenan, front man of both Tool and A Perfect Circle, presented his side project, Puscifer, to a very anxious and adoring audience waiting for his reputably unpredictable show.
The band that started off as a parody quickly turned into something much more substantial a creative outlet for Keenan’s imagination mixing trip-hop, industrial rock and a cabaret-style show with a bit of stand-up comedy.
The opening band Sweethead was also a side project for Queens of the Stone Age guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen. Featuring hot leggy blonde vocalist, Serrina Sims, who was decked out in a gold sequined dress, with black pumps rocking out, throwing down the mic stands, ripping cords out of the amps and lying on the stage growling and screaming lyrics and shouting, “we’re going to have to ask you to be quiet if it gets any louder in here!”
Later, Keenan’s show began with a video of him on a large screen projected from the inside of an on-stage tent on his laptop receiving a call that he was supposed to be at a show in Vancouver. “What the fuck are all these people doing outside my tent?” he said. “The show can’t be tonight.”
After a few moments of convincing on the other end of the line that there was in fact a show, and he was on stage, he emerged from the tent in a half black, half white suit to a crowd of extremely enthusiastic fans. The lights came on and his band ‘woke up’ from their sleeping bags that were scattered all across the stage prepped with a forest backdrop, campfire chairs.
The first clip was of Keenan as alter ego character ‘Major Douche’ in camouflage standing in front of an American Flag on the stage’s main theatre screen, ensuring that the audience knew video recording and flash photography was prohibited. Within moments, he had the crowd chanting out vagina, vagina, vagina.
The already bizarre experience accelerated into an industrial electronic act when two TVs near the back of the stage turned on with cameras behind them projecting the eccentric rocker onto the screen in a distorted fish-eye image mixing the real world with the TV-world. He stayed back there for the majority of the show and throughout the show, skits and satirical video interludes that had the crowd in hysterics popped up every three or so songs. A humor fit for mildly chauvinistic twenty-something-year-olds, who made up the majority of the audience, rocking out in their seats to each song.
The group of rotating artists sat around on the chairs playing various instruments, each sipping on a glass of Keenan’s own signature Chupacabra brand of red wine circled around a plastic lit-up campfire as the first song of the evening began, Revelation 22:20, Puscifer’s first song ever written. Keenan’s posse, included female raspy but sweet sounding vocalist/actress Milla Jovovich, Brother Ed, Brother Ant and drummer Tim Alexander who later emerged in a full out fairy costume snow boots, blue hair and wings. “Tim, you’re going to dress up as a fairy and it’s going to be fucking hilarious, let’s just try it,” said Keenan from inside the tent once again.
Apparently text messaging was also forbidden. Anytime someone picked up their phone for a split second, the ushers were quickly at their side shining a bright flashlight in their eyes asking them to put it away or to get out. Somehow I managed to not get thrown out of the concert while using my phone to see my notepad, but only by chance after being yelled at by an angry usher.
The set included all of Puscifer’s key songs, “Sour Grapes,” “Vagina” and “Hallelujah,” entirely comprised of songs from the band’s first full-length release, V is for Vagina. In between songs Keenan drank from the bottle and filled up the musicians’ glasses. The show concluded on a softer note with “Humbling River” and movie-style rolling credits.
Those who came in with any sort of expectations should have left them behind at the door because this show was most definitely one-of-a-kind.
Review by Green Of Eye, Sharp Of Claw at An Cathach
"Shock & Awe"....Puscifer in Vancouver Review
I can't remember the last concert or gig that i attended where i was filled with trepidation and anticipation in equal measure. As i walked through the doors of The Vancouver Centre for the Performing Arts i had no idea what to expect from the beast that is Puscifer. Puscifer (rhymes with Lucifer) is a multifaceted creative outlet for Maynard James Keenan; better known to some as the vocalist from Tool and A Perfect Circle. The debut album "V is for Vagina" was released in 2007 and was followed by some remix albums and EP's.
The reason for my trepidation was simply not knowing what to expect. I've seen Keenan perform many times previously but not under the Puscifer moniker. Never one to bow to the demands of an audience and judging by recent reports, shows on this tour have ranged from full on country to throbbing industrial. Unfortunately i didn't get a chance to catch the opening act Uncle Scratch's Gospel Revival (Edit:I've just been informed that Sweethead were the opening act) and arrived just as Maynard made his entrance...from inside a tent.
Shortly after this Major Douche (Keenan dressed in military gear standing in front of an American flag) made an appearance on the back screen and warned people about photography "Fucking Rude" and then urged the audience to get involved with a call and response. Indeed. Watching a few hundred people scream Vagina is always a good way to begin an evening :P
Combining numerous musical elements including industrial funk and primal drums; Keenan spent most of the night ensconced behind a fish eye effect monitor or wandering across the stage with a wineglass in hand. The band played a solid set consisting of "Sour Grapes", "Momma Sed", "Dozo" and "The Mission" amongst others. The night was interspersed with brief comedy skit interludes showcasing a tongue in cheek humour; not to mention Primus drummer Tim Alexander dressed as the tooth fairy. One thing that never ceases to amaze me is Keenan's voice; which i have never heard sounding anything less than note perfect live.
Overall i was really impressed and hope to catch Puscifer again. It was also refreshing to see something being given back to the fans in the form of a free copy of 'V is for Vagina'. The only downfall of the show was not the music or the band. It was the fans. At every Tool/APC gig I've been to there has been a small percentage of the audience that i want to bitch slap. Hard. Tonight was no different. It was a seated gig so people had to contend with others refusing to sit down; one idiot that lunged on stage and was dragged off by security and numerous others drunk and screaming through the songs. Puscifer is not a rock or metal band as such; they make music that evokes dancing (horizontally or vertically!) but i can't see the point of screaming or headbanging to it.
Review by Grimm “NO ELECTRONIC DEVICES!” Culhane at Abort Magazine
Art house beacon, perpetrator of aural significance, misunderstood lycanthrope and wine maker, Maynard James Keenan schlepped the beast into Vancouver last night and pounded out some hot, wet Puscifer. With Sweethead providing the warm up act, full on multi-media à la Maynard and a set of loungy Puscifer songs to share (old and new), this show was understandably kind of mental.
Maynard appeared inside a pup tent center stage with his sunglass clad, bald pate projected on the big screen at the back of the stage. This “Vacationing In Canada” intro made way for a harsh warning on the big screen from General Douche (its French) about flash photography and recording devices, rendered beautifully in a Patton-like militant way.
The chaos was abundant, but not overly chaotic. Maynard’s two tone suit, the set that could have overpowered the show (and almost didn’t) and a spasm-inducing light show would have almost sarcastically been really boring without the big screen video festival going on. Maynard hid behind a screen smaller than the one in your living room and sang into a camera… projecting him onto that same screen. Maynard and his backing vocalist did this the whole night, singing back there like they were singing for MTV and not a live audience. He wandered out between turns on the mic for some posturing and drinking of wine.
Musicians roamed in, played something on a song, then musicians sat down on camping chairs or left the stage. It was pretty neat and tidy and only reaffirmed Maynard’s penchant for artsy. Intermittent videos on the big screen were comical, asking “What is a Puscifer” and allowing Maynard to partake in assured penchants like baby throwing. (Don’t ask). Finally explaining why Hannah Montana is an act of terrorism perpetrated by the Walt Disney Corporation was a welcome and informative diversion.
As far as making music that sounds like a smooth but firm hot buttered pelvic massage goes, (like it says on Puscifer’s myspace) who the hell cares? They played everything from “Momma Sed” to “ Indigo Children” to “Sour Grapes” to “Queen Bee” to “Polar Bear” off the new EP “C” Is for (Please Insert Sophomoric Genitalia Reference HERE) and sounded excellent doing it. Perhaps Maynard’s manic music and multi-media melee turn with Puscifer will continue to grow once he writes more Puscifer material and can cut down on the filler.