Arriving at the venue for tonight show, one could see the que of eager Puscifer fans already stretched down the block, some in costume ( Billy D &, Hildy ). The last time Puscifer graced our presence was pre-COVID, or 2016, to be exact, when they performed an intimate show in a Casino ballroom in Atlantic City. The backdrop for tonight’s show is the lovely Met in Philly, a lavish venue that originally opened 1908 as an opera house, and is still serving as one of Philadelphia’s landmark show venues.
Puscifer have been a band since around 1995, and I don’t think they can be pigeon holed into any specific classification or genre. Yep, they’ve been called Industrial, Alternative, Electronic, but art and its interpretation are rather subjective, so call them what you will. Puscifer is currently touring in support of their fourth full length studio album Existential Reckoning which dropped in October of 2020. The band’s current lineup is Maynard James Keenan, Carina Round, Matt Mitchell, Gunnar Olsen, and Josh Moreau.
Using top-secret information obtained via shallow space satellites, unexpected celebrity breakup announcements and social media hashtag’s involving extraterrestrial probing’s, Pusciforce has identified a source of “concentrated electromagnetic burst” across the Continental United States. After further investigation, there appears to be a pattern of unique counter rotating fields of “inter-dimensional starlight” or, “The Briefcase.”
After feeding this data into a classified TMZ-anon algorithm Pusciforce not only determined the source of the these burst, but a veiled message contained in its waveform. The message, which appears to be extraterrestrial in nature translates as follows. “An Existential Reckoning is Imminent”. Philadelphia, the probing has begun!
The lights dimmed as the voice of Agent Dick Merkin came over the PA system announcing that violators of the bands no photo or video policy would be removed from the venue, ground up and made into spam, yea that meat jelly shit in the can.
Kicking the night off with “Bread and Circus,” Keenan (as Agent Merkin) and Carina Round took their place on the right side of the stage in front of a large LCD monitor, the other band members scattered about, all dressed in black suits and dark sunglasses. The electronic pulse of the music coupled with the songs dystopian lyrics bringing the crowd to its feet. “Bread and Circus” like many of the other tracks on Existential Reckoning, follow a theme based on our current world of blurred realities, and the erosion of society via selfishness, diversion, distraction, blind faith and ignorance.
The set continued and was dominated by tracks from their new album including “Postulous,” Fake Affront,” The Underwhelming,” and “Grey Area,” a song whose lyrics lament anything definitive, “Nothing Factual / Nothing fictional / Interchangeable / This is the Age of Confusion.”
During a brief intermission (there were two) Agent Dick Merkin gave the crowd a briefing on how space aliens are cloning celebrities, causing them to fuck up while walking the red carpet . Seriously, MJK could really peruse an alternative career as a comedian. The best (and most hilarious) examples of celebrity cloning was that Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus were the same people, cloned from the “Tiger King” and that Wendy O Williams (Plasmatics) faked her own death and assumed the identity of Maynard James Keenan (with a penis of course).
The band made their way back onto the Industrial looking stage set and picked things up with “Apocalyptical” a gyrating / pulsing song that showcased Carina Rounds angelic vocal harmonies. During this part of the show Keenan and Round were really starting find their rhythm, dancing and moving freely around the stage, Carina Round engaging with the surging crowd.
One of the best moments of the night came when the band performed “The Remedy,” Keenan and Round wearing their microphones on a kind of hands-free harness. The crowd rose to their feet, having an almost animalistic response to the lyrics, singing / screaming loudly with MJK: “You Speak Like Someone Who Has Never Been Smacked in the Fucking Mouth / That’s ok We Have the Remedy,” with their fist raised high in the air. This portion of the set ended with another crowd favorite “The Humbling River. “
The last part of the show began after a final briefing by Agent Merkin.
The character Billy D appeared on the top of the stage scaffolding and quickly asked where the bar was. Billy D for the uninitiated is a trailer dwelling hillbilly with a drinking problem, married to a chick named Hildy. Sporting a polyester leisure suit and a pompadour / mullet hairdo, he’s quite the spectacle. Picture, Joe Dirt meets Eddie from Family Vacation, get the picture? Billy D hangs off the scaffold asking bassist Josh Moreau if he’s the bartender which he gracefully declines.
The final part of the set begins with “Bullet Train to Iowa” most everyone in the venue is on their feet singing along. As the set winds onward with “Conditions of My Parole,” Billy D is performing the vocals through a bull horn while getting probed by a few very aggressive aliens. Given the nature of our world and the changes that happened on this very day, closing the show with “Bedlamite” seemed rather appropriate as we all hope, “Everything Will Be Alright.”
In closing I would like to add that while there’s a lot schtick involved with the story line and show, this is a group of humans who have no equal when it comes to insane creativity and extreme technical musical abilities. From the incredible vocals of Maynard and Carina, to the amazing musicians Josh, Gunnar and Matt this is a group that has no boundaries. Creative minds are never satisfied, they always push, looking for perfection but never really seem to find it, so they keep pushing and creating, this is the true essence of art. Big thanks to Puscifer for sharing their art and themselves with all of us. Peace.