Puscifer | 04.05.09 | Los Angeles

By: Greg Caruso

Puscifer :: 04.05.09 :: Club Nokia :: Los Angeles, CA

Puscifer from millaj.com
After gestating within the arcane mind of Tool and A Perfect Circle frontman Maynard James Keenan for more than ten years, the cabaret project Puscifer landed at Club Nokia for two shows. Combining performance art, music, multimedia and comedy, the act is something more far reaching than any live "rock" show in decades.

Club Nokia, which is by far the most well funded venue in L.A., was a remarkable space for this show. With superior sound coming at you from all angles, pulsating lights around all its bars and corridors and comfortable seating with not a bad view in the house, it truly pushes forward the concert going experience with a ton of momentum and fervor. The only downsides to the venue are ones that seem to always plague regular concertgoers, namely high drink prices and overzealous security.

The stage had a drum kit on each end, a section between for bass and guitar, and a middle platform toward the rear, which had two small screens on either side. In the front was a tent and lawn chairs that surrounded it. A large screen was hoisted behind the stage, and the show began with a Patton-like sequence with Maynard dressed as a major with the American flag behind him. "Major Douche," as he is called, proceeded to explain what we were about to see, and that there would be absolutely NO photography of any kind throughout the evening. To further get the crowd in the mood, "Major Douche" had us perform some audience participation with him - we screamed the word "VAGINA" at the top of our lungs.

After this, the Puscifer character appeared and a tripped out video sequence created by Meats Meier began. The sequence, which was used as a transition to the evening's video portions, uses a remix of "Queen B" behind it as we get sucked into Puscifer's "vagina." The first video featured Maynard broadcasting from inside the tent onstage. Bald, sporting dark shades and wearing a sharply tailored, all black suit with red tie, he was on the phone with some type of "manager" explaining his concept of the show (which included having Hitler dressed up in a tutu, but more on that later...), presumably trying to sell it. Once the phone call was over, roadies raised the tent and the crowd erupted at his presence. There was a table underneath with a laptop, cups and a bottle of his Caduceus wine, as well as a fake barbecue with phony flames. Maynard welcomed the crowd and took to the stage, as did the majority of the rotating band of musicians.

Maynard James Keenan - Puscifer from millaj.com
Opening up with "Rev 22:20," Maynard and singer-keyboardist Juliette Commagere were on the platform behind the two screens. The screens each had high angle webcams attached to the back, which televised their faces to the crowd. The effect was well realized and added to Maynard's ever changing masking of his true self. During each song, hilarious fake banner ads ran on the screens such as "Camp Crystal Meth," which featured a picture of a camp and two little Jason heads with spun-out eyes, "Hollywood Head Shots," with an actor smiling as a gun is being held to he head, and "He Is Risen Bakery," which had pieces of toast with the likeness of Jesus on them.

What's interesting about the project is that he doesn't use the same musicians every night, with the exception of Juliette Commagere, who provides the perfect counter balance to Maynard's style. Tonight's guitarist was Johnny Polanski, bassist Matt Mcjunkins and drummer Jeff Friedl from Ashes Divide, and on occasion Gil Sharone from Stolen Babies on the second drum kit. The band's overall sound is unlike anything Maynard has been involved with before. Every song had a somewhat different feel to it. Whether it was balls to the wall rock, down-tempo trip-hop or industrial, they all had one thing in common: They came from Maynard James Keenan's brain, and we were all welcomed in for a night.

Puscifer from millaj.com
The second video of the evening featured Maynard talking about the show, but this time he was speaking with Mr. Show's Jay Johnston, who was wearing a pink tutu and Hitler mustache. It was really just a quick tête-à-tête in regards to how he should at least just come check the show out and see what he thinks. As we got sucked back into Puscifer's "vagina" again, the band played through "Vagina Mine" and "Indigo Children." "Vagina Mine" is a more industrial track with punchy bass lines, a driving back-beat and electronic fueled guitar sounds, and "Indigo Children" has Maynard's hypnotic vocals prominently in play with a lot of down-beats coming from the band. At this point, more friends of the band came to sit around the "fire." These friends included Jay Johnston, of course dressed as Hitler in a tutu, members of opening band Sweethead, and eventually, Tool drummer Danny Carey strutted on up to roast some marshmallows with his girlfriend.

During "Indigo Children," a roadie dragged out a lumpy sleeping bag to the middle of the stage in between all the guests. A Perfect Circle and Ashes Divide mastermind Billy Howerdel emerged from inside wearing a flesh colored body suit. To say the crowd went nuts is an understatement. The band then launched into a raging version of "The Undertaker," which Howerdel commenced to annihilate. During "Trekka," a darkly ominous number, Howerdel laid down next to Johnston and got cozy. Before the vocals began, Maynard poured the shredder a glass of wine as thanks and headed back to his platform to handle vocal duties.

Puscifer first made its existence known via the hilarious HBO television series Mr. Show way back in 1995. Throughout the show's short run, Maynard made multiple brief appearances in various roles. The third video segment of the evening featured much of the show's cast talking about what Puscifer "is." The video was filled with quick cuts and soundbites, all intercut with denouncements of religion. Throughout, there were many news channel type graphics featuring different instances of "Bob," the "leader" of The Church of the SubGenius, a comedic quasi-religion, which Maynard has been known to be a part of.

Mila Jovovich - Puscifer from millaj.com
When you think of Elton John's song "Rocket Man" one can't help but think about the whimsical nature and melodic voyage it takes you on. Puscifer stayed quite faithful to the original, but added subtle additions like little snippets of NASA recordings that made you really feel like you were high up above (for further pondering, check out last week's Saturday Eye Candy dedicated to the song). With the spooky sounds of "Polar Bear" and the mocking religious chanting of "Sour Grapes" following their only cover of the night, they paved the way for the evening's next guests. Drummer Josh Freese (A Perfect Circle, Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age) pounded away on the original version of "Queen B" in its entirety. Freese received a lot of attention for his hilarious and original manner of gaining press for his recent solo album, Since 1972. Among various package deals, one stand-out was for $20,000, which included a game of mini-golf with himself and Maynard.

Rounding out the evening with final guest, model/actress/singer Mila Jovovich, the band rolled out "The Mission." With Jovovich all dolled up, quite literally, and writhing around the stage in her oh-so-sexy manner, she had every man in the joint in the palm of her hands. With a sensuous voice that soothes as much as it teases, she's a perfect fit for this ragtag bunch of carny-like musicians. After all was said and done, one thing about the evening was made quite certain - Maynard certainly keeps things interesting.

These vids are not from this show, and they're a little bit shaky, but they give a much needed visual:

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[Published on: 4/17/09]

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Comments

briank67 Fri 4/17/2009 02:24PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

briank67

weird! i'm not much of a fan of that puscifer album--it just feels too sleazy when you think about the type of music tool creates--but the live show sounds very interesting, and totally something maynard would do. milla looks foxy too.... but i can't wait for tool to TOUR this summer!

brooklynite84 Fri 4/17/2009 02:39PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Hell Yeah! Bout time we got some kind of look into this wonderland of a show, sure the music might not be Tool, but I like the weirdness this show gives off. I was gonna go to the Vegas show, but that soldout quickly. I like this idea, it's kind of like Butthole Surfers, but Maynard style. I hope they bring Puscifer to Voodoo Fest this year; put them in the TENT! What a wild Halloween show that would be, or better yet, bring Tool and I'll be set for the year...

Andrew Bruss starstarstarstar Fri 4/17/2009 06:00PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Andrew Bruss

great write up. sounds like a wild time... it always is with Maynard. I dug this album when it launched and wondered how it would take to a stage. I always figured he did most of the album on a lap top a la Thom Yorke's Eraser, so it's cool to hear about how Maynard brought it to the live context. I don't expect a tour any time soon, but would really dig a visit to beantown!!!

brooklynite84 Fri 4/17/2009 06:42PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Okay, I just had to find out from anyone else who knows, but I just read an article about Bonnaroo's third headliner maybe being Tool, even though nothing has been announced yet and the fact that they did the Roo a couple years ago, the article says there's a big chance that Tool will make a stop there, especially since they seem to be hitting all the major festivals across the country from Lolla to Outside Lands. Even though, their tour dates haven't been announced yet, the article says that this info is from a good source inside the Tool circuit. I don't know what to make of this, but has anyone else heard anything about this reporting? If it's true then the Roo will be the best festival of this summer. Tool, NIN, Volta and Phish, jesus I could only dream...

brooklynite84 Fri 4/17/2009 06:45PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

sorry i didn't mean Outside Lands, I meant All Points West...there is too many festivals, then again there could NEVER be TOO MANY FESTIVALS!

bloggersrlosers starstarstarstarstar Fri 4/17/2009 10:29PM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

bloggersrlosers

I've been disappointed numerous times by not getting phish tickets yet, but none of it matters cuz I get to see Tool this summer. Only Radiohead equals their music and live show and i mean that in a sober state of thinking. Phish a distant third. Woodstock '09 lineup is rumored to be Friday-Tool, Saturday-Phish>The Dead>Phish, and Sunday-Radiohead(jk, i made that up but it'd be sweeeeet, Rothbury perhaps?)

MoeString Sat 4/18/2009 01:18AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

MoeString

BOB DOBBS!!!!!

MoeString Sat 4/18/2009 01:18AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

MoeString

BOB DOBBS!!!!

MoeString Sat 4/18/2009 01:18AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

MoeString

BOB DOBBS...!!

MFF0RD6 starstarstarstarstar Sat 4/18/2009 10:30AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

MFF0RD6

i bought a front row seat to this show at the box office the night before. a powerful performance by all involved.

Badgerboy starstarstarstarstar Sat 4/18/2009 11:04AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Badgerboy

First off this article is great! one of the best I have read on this website. Thanks for giving a report on this whole pucifire business. I have really been curious as to how it would play out live. Not as into it as tool and APC but still interesting.

mesaxi Mon 4/20/2009 05:44AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Glad to see you guys listened about the no pictures thing. Nice work...

.

Anyhow, where was Trey Gunn? He didn't make an appearance? and Howzabout Tim Alexander?

Jimmy P starstarstarstarstar Mon 4/20/2009 08:43AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Jimmy P

its about time they started giving some coverage to puscifer. This was the 3rd and 4th shows that they did, with no more planned or announced yet. i will admit to being a maynardite, kinda loving everything he does. Tool and APC are my favorite bands, and i always loved the puscifer stuff cuz it was soo different and creative. Josh Freese must've torn it up, and REV 22:20 is an INCREDIBLE song (underworld soundtrack) i always was curious if maynard would ever do puscifer live and how it would work out. Now all we need is to have puscifer open up for tool this summer. probly wont happen, but i can dream cant i? Now i jus have to wait for the dates to be announced for the TOOL tour this summer. Danny Carey and Justin Chancellor may be the most incredible low end for any band. ever. Justin is a self-proclaimed synesthesite (didnt spell it right) who can see sounds (mixing of the senses). Carey sets up his drum according to sacred geometry. the rabbit hole goes deep with these guys. BUT back to puscifer... couldnt imagine how it would work live, but glad to see that maynard do what he does best...perform live. wish i wasnt a broke college kid or i woulda gone across country to see this one.