Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Concert Review: Puscifer @ Borgata Event Center - Atlantic City, NJ 04/15/16

What Puscifer does when they play live is not a concert.  It is a performance.  Actually, it's more than just a performance.  Seeing Puscifer live is as close to a drug as you are going to find.

Puscifer is the mental playground of singer Maynard James Keenan.  It's a revolving door of talented minds and musicians that are his muses. It's a playground were anything goes.  When you set the mind free of constraints creation has no limits.  The awkward becomes beautiful.  The beautiful becomes humorous.  The humorous becomes eerily stark.  Going to see Puscifer live is like an invite into the mind of MJK.

This time around Puscifer is on a full out tour of their new album Money Shot.  I wish I could go back and redo my year Top 10 list because this ethereal gem would be near the top.  This is the first time that they will be touring outside of North America.  It wasn't all that long ago that they weren't touring much further out than the American Southwest. So getting to see them at the Borgata Event Center in Atlantic City was a treat.

The Event Center is a big venue.  I've been quite vocal about my distaste for large venues.  I prefer small, intimate settings.  I have seen larger settings destroy bands.  I was surprised when I entered that the Event Center was partitioned off.  When I walked through the partition there were maybe 20 rows of chairs lined up against the large stage. This large venue was just reduced to a 1,500 seat small venue.  Even still the place seemed cavernous.  I was hoping that Puscifer could pull this off.

I researched the opening act, Luchifer, before the show and really couldn't find anything on them.  I was even more confused when the curtains opened to reveal a wrestling ring.  Luchifer turned out to be Luchador westlers.

It wasn't just wrestling but a story set in a cartoonish fashion much like a Charlie Chaplin movie. Fans could pay extra to sit ring side and even Maynard was present.  For thirty minutes the Luchadors wowed us with their moves. When the match was over they left the stage but it would not be the last we would see of them.

Instead of the stage being taken down it was moved to the back of the stage and a drum set was rolled out in front of it.  An announcement came on featuring a humorous rundown of the rules of the night.  One of the main rules was no photography, audio recordings, or cell phones.  It was explained that how could anyone enjoy a show if you are fumbling around with a phone.  Security had been going around giving warnings that if the phones come out again you would be escorted out.  No I know this sounds hypocritical coming from the guy toting a camera but once I finished shooting my two songs and put my camera away I felt free.  Usually, I am reviewing pics, watermarking them, checking in and uploading to social media and taking notes.  I was officially able to clock out and just enjoy the show.  In a seat no less. It turned out to be one of the most pleasurable concert experiences that I've had in years.

The lights came on to Maynard and Carina Round behind microphones in the ring.  The band were on either side with the drummer out front.  The wrestlers joined them on stage moving in unison to the music,  They opened with "Simultaneous"

Maynard was in a suite with a Luchador mask that he wore all night.  Carina's haunting sound perfectly accompanies the gentleness of Maynard's voice.  I found myself completely lost in their performance.

As the show progressed I forgot how I felt about large venues.  Puscifer were filling the room.  There were voices where there was air.  There were word filling empty spaces.  There were compelling images on the screen behind them.  The wrestlers would get into smack talking during the songs.  There was so much going on my mind was on overload.

After three songs the musicians retreated to the side of the stage and the wrestlers removed the microphones and reentered the stage to perform an intermission while the musicians watched.  Act 2 was about to begin.

The audience was in a trance until "The Arsonist" snapped them out of it.  The crowd was frenzied sing the chorus of "What's the matter Beavis?".  Images of fire filled the screen behind them. The energy was building song by song.  Just when I felt it peaking they brought it back down with Carina doing vocals for "Rev 22:20"during Act 3.

It was just enough of a break to emotionally get me ready for the trance like tribal sound of  "Grand Canyon". Vision of deserts soared behind them with exotic time lapsing flowers the vibrated the screen.  It was hypnotic. Their interactive performance had managed to transform the surroundings to an intimate setting.  Maynard's interior design background put to good use in creating and filling space.

After eighteen songs Maynard finally addressed the crowd.  He took a moment to mock the gambling atmosphere that hosted him and then introduced the band.  With that he followed with, "Thank you for coming out.  Good Fucking Bye!".  The band left the stage but not the wrestlers.  They stayed through all four acts and now urged us to cheer for an encore.

They concluded with "Smoke and Mirrors" and "Autumn" and then it was over.  Twenty songs, four acts, and and encore.  I was standing in awe. There were moments that showed Maynard's incredible sense of humor. Times that showcased his fragility.  Songs that showed his strength.  Overall I found myself speechless.  Unable to really describe how I was feeling at the moment.  That was when I snapped back to reality.  It is my job to describe to you exactly how it made me feel. To make you see what you did not see.  I quickly hurried out back to my reality.  Writing notes and uploading photos to social media. I missed Maynard's alternate reality.  I already missed Puscifer.  That is the beauty of MJK.

See you when the needle drops!


Recent Articles By Fran


  1. Great article and representation of the evening with Puscifer!!

    When I saw you being the only one taking pictures, I had to approach you where you shared you business card with me.

    I got the pleasure of seeing them in the Borgata, Santander a few days before, and also Round 1 at the Fillmore in November.

    I absolutely love this band and what MJK has done with it. I have not been into a band this much since my first love of Pink Floyd in 1980.

    1. Thank you Vitello. I appreciate you taking the time to read the article. I would have loved to have seen them at the Fillmore. I think that Pink Floyd is a great comparison to the freedom in which MJK approaches this project. Thank you for the kinds words!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Thank you! I will make that change. I typically take notes but I couldn't pull my phone out during this show so I was going completely by memory.


Popular Posts