PUSCIFER @ RIVERSIDE THEATER – MILWAUKEE, IL

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PUSCIFER @ RIVERSIDE THEATER – MILWAUKEE, IL

March 25, 2016

Review by Dan Scheiman

Photos by Nicci Allen

Kicking off the evening with some comic relief and a fantastic display of athleticism, Luchafer approached the stage in bright masks and spandex demanding the crowd’s full attention. This group of mysterious Luchadores entered the wrestling ring in the center of the stage and proceeded to portray a good mix of classic pro wrestling moves, shenanigans reminiscent of the three stooges, and some friendly antagonizing of the fans. I won’t ruin anything by giving away too much, but I can say that some unexpected twists take place and by the end of it, the crowd was twice as loud as when it began. This was a fun and very entertaining way to warm up the fans before the headlining act.
Puscifer is a unique group that is most commonly known for their unforgiving, in your face mentality, a kinky sense of humor, and their very bold aesthetic approach. With Maynard James Keenan at the helm, and a plethora of brilliant musicians fueling the vessel, this project has done nothing but pick up steam over the years.
Being an avid TOOL and A Perfect Circle fan since I was young, I’ve always had an immense amount of respect for Maynard and all the work he does. With that being said, the amount of genius and talent that he surrounds himself with on any given project deserves just as much praise. The most recent Puscifer release, Money Shot is a masterful production that I believe outshines anything else that has been brought to table by them so far. Each album has been its own entity, but I feel like this particular one carries with it something deeper and more meaningful.
Although the stage was dark and riddled with smoke, you could still make out the outlines of Maynard and Carina Round in the center of the wrestling ring as the band began to drench the audience in a luscious wave of sound. Although he was masked, Maynard’s identity was assured as soon as he let his distinct and unmistakable voice bleed out into the venue. This sound production was legitimately flawless, and I found myself with chills from head to toe as soon the band began to play. With the drums set up front and center and the other members surrounding the ring, each member was given a piece of the spotlight that they each sincerely deserved. Between the flawless execution of off tempo and beautifully dynamic drum parts, to the wonderful blend of powerful guitar distortion and full bodied keys parts, every member of this band should be known and respected for their critical perfectionism and impressive artistic execution.
I have seen many tremendous vocalists perform live, and I knew I was in for a treat when they began playing “Grand Canyon”, but after finding myself completely engulfed in Maynard and Carina’s gorgeous harmonies and once again noticing that tears were falling down my face, I realized I had never been gripped so tightly by a pair of singers live… nothing even comes close. The lyrical power of that track alone is enough to elevate someone’s consciousness, but when the vocal parts start to interweave this track truly comes to life. Other tracks such as “The Arsonist” and “Galileo” offered a very similar awe inspiring and paralyzing effect live. Although some of these tracks have a very soothing and fluid feeling to them, do not underestimate the ability for this band to punch you in the mouth with its heavier more militant side as well. The lyrics as well as the abrasive and industrial writing style of “The Remedy” are proof enough to that statement, but seeing it live was something else entirely.
Many consider Puscifer to be just a side project of Maynard’s, but after really digging into their work and seeing them live, I understand now that this project is a beast all on its own. I’m not sure if Maynard is getting closer to taming said beast, or closer to breaking it out of its cage, but either way this band is well worth keeping on your radar from here on out. There is a very specific balance that these artists have found that I don’t think anyone else has discovered just yet. They are capable of seamlessly transitioning their listeners through humorous concepts, to euphoric and heavenly sensations, to heart pounding dysphoria all within one concert. This concert was a relentless assault, but a blissful experience all at once.

 

Dan Scheiman
Dan Scheiman With an entirely open and unbiased obsession with music, Dan decided to take the opportunity given to him to share his thoughts for On Stage Review. Having been to hundreds of concerts of a variety of styles and genres over the years, he's no stranger to live music. He has been playing bass guitar for over twelve years now and has been dabbling in vocal work, drums, and piano for almost as long. Growing up listening to metal and industrial then transitioning into jazz and classical, and now having a particular love for funk or anything that grooves; his perspective comes from a well-rounded musical background and some amateur experience as a musician. He has too many favorite bands to list, but some of his favorite live experiences include: Sigur Ros, Porcupine Tree, Papadosio, Tool, The Ocean, Animals As Leaders, Lettuce, and of course, Victor Wooten.