Puscifer’s most recent tour felt like more than a bit of rock and roll theater performance art. From the press photos of the band dressed up like parallel dimension Watchmen futuristic noir superheros replicated for the live show to Maynard James Keenan performing in character in more than one role to the stage sets and interludes between songs it was a full production from its early public announcements and intentional and conceptual aesthetics and execution. Chances are much of this was planned all along when Existential Reckoning was planned for the roll out in 2020 before the pandemic put all the brakes on anyone doing any shows much less a full fledged tour on every logistical level. It’s easy to imagine Maynard and the rest of the band having these ideas ready but this live show had the energy of pent-up exuberance let loose so that while not rough around the edges, there was an intensity that felt real and not an act in spite of the performance art aspect of the show.
Of course the show included what seemed like the whole Existential Reckoning album in its entirety and set up as a concept performance with Keenan and Carina Round on the ground level of the stage and on an upper area for various songs and for the final sequences of the show. It all felt like a futuristic rock and new wave glam rock fusion with sly social commentary. For most of the show the band forbade people in the audience from taking photos and such as perhaps an attempt to keep the focus on the show and its content and, well, the reason we all showed up to see the art rock glory of the band giving an exuberant performance informed by humor and intelligence. But what stood out most in some ways were the regular interludes in which the music took a pause and the video screens were filled with the image of Keenan as a mutant hybrid parody of Max Headroom and a conspiracy theorist TV show host and unleashing some of the most cartoonish and ridiculous examples of the kind of rhetoric you might expect and done so with a surreal glee that was the perfect break from the rest of the show. And yes, the concert in general had a level of stagecraft and content one doesn’t often see outside of a Nine Inch Nails or Radiohead gig so Puscifer in delivering arguably the best record of its career thus far did so with a riveting live show and the mix of humor and bombast you’d hope to experience.
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