Puscifer probed the Denver, Colorado Fans at the Mission Ballroom. Maynard James Keenan‘s theatrical rock comes to Denver at the Mission Ballroom. Puscifer is a hard act to fit into a specific genre. Their mix of 80’s synth-rock/comedy ensemble/performance art is unconstrained, adaptable, and multi-dimensional. Tonight, Puscifer brings the Existential Reckoning Tour to Denver. Their version of Men in Black was there to probe the Denver fans with aliens and music.
The summer evening began with the noise rapper band Moodie Black. Maynard James Keenan hand-picked them as the opening act for Puscifer. The best way to describe Moodie Black is spoken word poetry against industrial metal. Singer Kristen Martinez leads the Minneapolis alt-metal rap band with Sean Lindahl on guitars and visual artist Jamee Varda on drums. The five-song set felt like one continuous sonnet against a graphical screen of various images and videos. The band members were bathed in a solid red light throughout their performance.
Kristen Martinez – Vocals
Sean Lindahl – Guitars
Jamee Varda– Drums
After a quick set change, the lights lowered, and the two screens in the back of the stage showed Agent Dick Merkin, aka Maynard James Keenan. He tells the packed Mission Ballroom about the mystery meat in Spam. The special ingredient in Spam is humans. Anyone caught using their cell phone will be turned into Spam. Like any Maynard James Keenan concerts, all cell phones are prohibited.
The lights went dark, and the band members took to the stage to complete their Existential MIB outfits (black suits and dark sunglasses). Co-vocalist Carina Round joined Maynard James Keenan in his Agent Dick Merkin persona at the back of the stage. The rest of the Puscifer consists of multi-instrumentalist Mat Mitchell (Senior Agent in Charge Matmitchell), bassist Josh Moreau and drummer Gunnar Olsen spread out across the stage.
Act 1 of the Puscifer concert began with the first track from Existential Reckoning, “Bread and Circus.” The synth-heavy track had a techno, house, almost trance vibe. Maynard and Carina came to the front of the stage after the end of “Bread and Circus.” In his Agent Dick Merkin persona, he spoke and had fun with the audience throughout the evening. Maynard’s interaction with the audience makes for a better and more enjoyable show. His interaction with the audience is limited in his other bands. Keenan usually sings in the back of the stage for most of the show in his other bands.
Maynard and Carina have great chemistry, playing off each other throughout the night between songs. This included Maynard asking Carina where they were playing tonight. Puscifer followed with “Postulous.” The song featured some interesting synchronize dance choreography by Maynard and Carina. Bald MIB agents came to scan the audience for extraterrestrials toward the end of the song.
The mullet-wigged character Billy D with his cell phone from Puscifer’s second album, Conditions of My Parole, appeared in the photo pit. This causes all the MIB agents and the rest of the band to start chanting “spam, spam, spam.” The MIB agents pulled Billy D out of the pit. One agent threw him on his back and took him away. For the rest of Act 1, Puscifer continues to play songs from Existential Reckoning, including “Fake Affront,” “The Underwhelming,” “Grey Area,” “Theorem,” and “UPGrade.” Act 1 ended with the band leaving the stage and Agent Dick Merkin back on the video screen. He describes how aliens have infiltrated the world by cloning celebrities, including Mila Kunis. Sometimes the cloning goes wrong, and the artists in pop music sound like each other. Behind the comedic fun of Maynard’s character, there is subtle social commentary.
Act 2 began with Maynard and Carina singing from the center stage scaffolding. Puscifer continued with songs from Existential Reckoning, including “Apocalyptical” The song had a chorus of dancing aliens. They stayed for the majority of the second act. The second act included songs from Existential Reckoning and older Puscifer fan favorites. This included the metal track “The Remedy” from the album Money Shot.
The second set ended with the fan-favorite “The Humbling River” from the album “C” Is for (Please Insert Sophomoric Genitalia Reference Here) – EP. “The Humbling River” is a haunting ballad with a message of letting go of the past. Agent Dick Merkin returns to the video screen and continues his commentary on how aliens have infiltrated the world. This includes making fun of himself and his real identity. Dick Merkin tells the audience how Wendy O. Williams of The Plasmatics didn’t die. She went through sexual reassignment to not be a clone and is now Maynard James Keenan. And Post Malone was a horrible experiment gone wrong.
Act 3 started with thunderous applause. Maynard returned as the fan-favorite mullet-wigged character Billy D from Puscifer’s second album, Conditions of My Parole, and the HBO 90s cult comedy series Mr. Show. Billy D wanders around the stage, drinking whiskey and looking for refills from the alien dancers. He is handed a bullhorn after the songs” Bullet Train to Iowa” and “Vagina Mine.” Puscifer follows with the title track from 2011’s Conditions of My Parole, with the Mission Ballroom fans singing along. Billy D announced to the audience that they could bring out their phones. They can shoot and film the final song of the show.
A perfect ending with the final track on Existential Reckoning. Puscifer ends the night with “Bedlamite.” The song is about mediation on lasting suffering; everything will be all right—an interesting upbeat song from an infamous pessimist in Maynard. Agent Merkin appeared on the video screen as the band left the stage. He is seen on the screen playing the Bop It game.
Puscifer’s music is something to experience live. Tonight, the fans were treated to aliens, MIB cosplay, parole violations, and probing. There was also great music from Maynard and company.
Maynard James Keenan – Vocals
Carina Round – Vocals, Guitar, Percussions, Keys
Mat Mitchell – Guitar, Bass, Keys, Synthesizers, Production
Josh Moreau – Bass
Gunnar Olsen – Drums, Programming
Agent Dick Merkin Spam Video (Taped)
ACT – 1
1.) Bread and Circus
3.) Fake Affront
4.) The Underwhelming
5.) Grey Area
Agent Dick Merkin Video (Taped)
ACT – 2
2.) The Remedy
3.) Personal Prometheus
4.) A Singularity
5.) Momma Sed (Remixed version)
6.) The Humbling River (Remixed version)
Agent Dick Merkin Video (Taped)
ACT – 3
1.) Bullet Train to Iowa
2.) Vagina Mine
3.) Conditions of My Parole
Agent Dick Merkin Bop It! Game Video (Taped)
Hi, I’m a professional photographer based in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I started to take photos at concerts because I get bored very easy and need something to do while watching a musicians or bands perform. So I started taking my point and shoot camera with me and recording what I saw and to show my friends. At first, the camera was just a photographic diary of my concert experience. But after a while I started liking the quality of my shots and concert photography became my hobby. I decided to post my pictures on instagram and facebook. I think fans liked what they saw and started to follow me. Concert photography became my passion and finally I asked All Music Magazine if I could take photos for them. They like my concert photography Instagram page and that opened the door to a whole new area – the photo pit. Now I am happy to say I’m chasing my photography dream – as a professional concert photographer.