Puscifer Baptizes The Berklee Performance Center Crowd

Puscifer
with Uncle Scratch’s Gospel Revival
March 15, 2010
Berklee Performance Center
Boston, MA

Before the doors opened, there was already a line waiting to get into The Berklee Performance Center. While walking past the eager crowd, I spotted a van from a local rock station parked near the front door. It made me chuckle a bit, because while that station often play(ed) Tool and A Perfect Circle, the music of tonight’s act, Puscifer, is seldom heard on their airwaves.

Satire was in full swing for tonight’s performance, and not so subtly with the opening act, Uncle Scratch’s Gospel Revival. With “preachy” evangelical songs about redemption, sex and their favorite topic, the Devil, Brother Ed and Brother Ant had the crowd cracking up as soon as they walked on stage. During their act they frequently spouting their favorite faux-pious slogans like “the Devil is a punk-ass bitch.” This novelty act also utilized various visual props as well, including a cardboard tube drum kit complete with a metal milk-crate hi-hat (which was tipped over repeatedly). The biggest laugh came when they unfolded a poster-sized picture of the the Devil himself, Tom Cruise. This duo is nothing but entertaining.

Puscifer - March 15, 2010

Photo by Kristen Pierson

Puscifer took to the stage with each member dressed up in clergy garb. This is not a show for those who may be sensitive about their religious beliefs, especially if you are Christian, because Maynard James Keenan pulls no punches in his satirical attacks on organized religion.

Puscifer’s performance was nothing like I anticipated… it was so much better. The instruments were pushed to the side of the stage, with drums and bass on one side, guitars and percussion on the other side, with Keenan and vocalist Carina Round at center stage, and a giant video screen above it all. The Puscifer show is as much a visual arts experience as it is a musical performance. At the back of the stage, Keenan and Round stand behind monitors with mic and cameras rigged so that their faces are displayed only on the monitor. Two couches and tables used by the band at various points to relax with some wine (probably from Caduceus Cellars) and cheese were placed front and center.

During the fist song the band seamlessly played over a spoken word piece played on the video screen. Musically, based on how the records are done, I expected at least some of the music to be pre-recorded, but was surprised to find it was all performed live… flawlessly. That’s how the set progressed, a mixture of music and visuals… humor and biting satire.

The set wasn’t filled with ad lib moments or unscripted banter with that crowd, but about an hour into the set Keenan quietly said to the crowd, “You can stand-up if you want to,” and everyone did just that. The entire crowd rose up out of their seats and moved to the music. Highlights include the live renditions of “Indigo Children,” “Vagina Mine,” and “Momma Sed.”

As I left the venue, I couldn’t help thinking that I’ve never seen a performance like what Puscifer had just laid out. It was a unique experience both visually and musically. And I think everyone in the crowd would agree, we’d love to see it all over again.

  • Chris

    I saw Puscifer and Uncle Scratch’s Gospel Revival in Toronto on the 19th and 20th and it was spectacular. Maynard you are a true master of time and space, and your ability to convey humor, emotion, wonder, splendor, just your utter creative ability make you a very wise master in a world full of little people.
    I truly believe you one of the few artists left.

  • justin

    saw em first nite in d-town. super-dooper fantastic. one of the best shows i’ve ever had the pleasure of witnessing; especially cuz it was so damn low-key.

  • http://www.parchealth.com chris p in brighton

    What an interesting performance. The tunes themselves were pure Maynard – throbbing pulse beats, guitar and drumjs flicking in the background – not Tool, not A Perfect Circle, but his influences were apparent. I especially liked the rendition of Indigo Children – sounded great live, the band was in great synch.

    While I’m ok with the heavy-handed undelying statement against organized religion – everybody’s entitled – the clergy garb and the little wine and cheese wanderings of the cast didn’t add anything to my experience. Sure, it’s a concert/play/performance thing, and MJK is a master at creating different ways of conveying his opinions, but I’d rather he just stick with pure music. Which he creats fantastically well!

  • JSuds23

    Attended the first show in Chicago on March 26th. Show was awesome with the Vagina Airlines theme. However, I am confused on what Maynard wanted people to do. One section was standing, another sitting. Myself and a friend were standing while everyone in our section decided to sit. When we tell people to get out of their seats, they tell us we are supposed to be on a plane and Maynard will let us know when to stand! LOL, well I’m not on a plane, nor do I feel the band wanted us sitting there motionless. Well, at least I enjoyed the show, the crowd weirded the shit out of me though. Kind of wish I just saw it in my home town of Detroit. 75% of you Chicago peeps just don’t know how to get down. Hopefully Puscifer decides to skip you guys next time around, I know I would.