:: Puscifer ::
:: Paramount Theatre ::
:: Nov 10 2011 ::
Thursday night at the Paramount Theatre in downtown Denver became the temporary home of Maynard James Keenan’s ethereal side-project Puscifer; an elctro-rock outfit garnished with psychedelic country straight out of the deserts of Arizona. The front man of Tool and A Perfect Circle seems to have no end to his creative drive, and in no better place can one witness it than Puscifer; directed, choreographed and emancipated by the musings of Keenan and his perspective on the world.
As the stage was being prepared for the coming show, a flat screen TV hanging in the upper left corner of the curtain played a video of a mockumentary of country singer “Billy D” and his wife and co-singer Hildy on tour; the newest of Keenan’s characters dressed in country garb (longtime fans of Keenan will remember other characters such as Reverend Maynard and the Hooker with a Penis performed during Tool shows). As the lights dimmed for the start of the show, the mockumentary was ditched for a quick psa by Keenan dressed as General Patton in front of an American flag. The message was simple; no flash photography or recording of any kind, delivered in a manner only Keenan and his sardonic humor could pull off.
Then the show began. Keenan emerged from behind the curtain in the dark theatre dressed in pseudo-cowboy attire; black western shirt and matching cowboy hat with aviator sunglasses that drew screams of admiration and applause from the crowd. Delving into a monologue, he pulled a silver-bullet camper straight from the 50s out on stage. From the camper came Carina Round, the beautiful English singer-songwriter who opened up for and sang alongside Keenan on this tour. As his discourse continued, the two pulled the rest of the stage props out; multiple folding chairs and tables along with a charcoal grill (with working fake fire) and just as in a play, the props helped set the tone for Keenan’s monologue and the entire tour itself. And the moral of his story? Gather around a central fire and be human together (albeit much more elaborately and intricately put).
The show encompassed Puscifer’s entire repertoire starting with “Green Valley” off of his latest release Conditions of My Parole. The song gave the audience an idea of the evening to come; showcasing Keenan and Round’s ability to harmonize, a duo that seemed to feed off of and reciprocate seamlessly with each other. The song exemplified the dark atmospheric disposition of the band with its melodic start turning into the juxtaposition of harmony and industrial-laced psychedelic country that Puscifer embodies.
The Paramount Theatre added an intimate ambiance to the show but confused the almost sold-out crowd initially. Not knowing whether to stand or sit, the audience wrestled between the two as it’s natural to stand at a rock show but with seats and the nature of the show itself lead to the inclination to sit between songs. But standing eventually prevailed and the crowd focused their energy and attention to the play unfolding before them. While Puscifer’s first tour used a multitude of multimedia, Keenan let his songs and the minimal props dictate the show. A screen the size of the back curtain was present and was used as an accent to the songs; showing related imagery that ranged from desert landscapes to a cloud-filled sky shot over a period of time.
Keenan played songs from each of his releases with an emphasis on V is for Vagina and Conditions of My Parole. Songs like “Dozo”, “Momma Sed”, and “Vagina Mine” off of V is for Vagina were remixed as if they were dismembered and put back together with a psychedelic-country adhesive. At one point between songs, Keenan remarked “in the desert one often finds or loses themselves;” and it seems clear which one Keenan embraced as he has spent the better part of the last decade residing and harvesting wine in the harsh Arizona desert. Halfway through the show the set became alive as two members from Carina Round’s band sat at a folding table and played cards-evincing the purpose of the props as the need and want of humans to gather around a central fire together-Keenan’s running theme.
As the show was reaching its end, the band sat in the chairs on stage and Keenan began to pour each member a glass of his Caduceus wine with ambient music playing and the backdrop of a desert landscape emanating behind them. After a moment of enjoying the wine with his friends and band mates, he began to introduce each member while Round fetched a banjo and began to play the intro to “Tumbleweed” the last song off of Parole. Keenan eventually joined Round and the two began to sing the melodic harmony of the song as each member joined one after another to finish out the show. It was a fitting end to a show that not only entertained but evoked thought as Keenan’s projects often do.
- Maynard Monologue (while setting up camper/stage)
- The Green Valley
- Tiny Monsters
- Vagina Mine
- The Rapture (Fear is a Mind Killa Mix)
- The Weaver
- Rev 22:20
10. Polar Bear
11. Indigo Children
15. Conditions of My Parole
16. Man Overboard
17. Telling Ghosts
18. The Undertaker