Puscifer Brings Arizona Bay to Boston
November 22, 2011
The last time Puscifer rolled through Boston in March 2010, it was at a smaller venue than the Orpheum, so the opportunities for some additional stage theatrics this time around really piqued my interest. Maynard James Keenan and crew would not disappoint.
As I entered the venue to take my seat, the first thing that struck me was that the stage was completely empty. All that you could see was a massive reflective backdrop and a 15 foot screen hanging from the rigging. That’s it.
On the screen, the audience was treated to a humorous mockumentary with the plot of the film centered around Maynard James Keenan’s country-music playing, 1st cousin screwing, cheap whiskey drinking character Billy D. and his misadventures with wife Hildy and the well-endowed thieving interloper Peter Merkin.
Once the film ended, the house lights dimmed, and the theatrics began. Keenan appeared pulling an Airstrem Bambi trailer across the stage. It seems to take forever for Keenan to position the trailer. Once the trailer was in place, Keenan began his monologue ( in the vein of something Bill Hicks may have done during his more serious moments) while the stage setup slowly began to take shape as Keenan and Carina Round pulled stage props from the trailer including folding chairs, tables, and the ubiquitous bottle of wine. The rest of the setup was rolled out from the wings, including the drum kit on a giant red wagon. The result was akin to some bizarre camping trip in the desert, rather than the lounge feel of their previous tour.
With everything in place, the music began, and the crowd erupted. The house was packed with real fans of Puscifer’s music, those who actually know the songs, know the words, and have a great time moving to the music. The band played a strong set which included songs from their current release, Conditions of My Parole, like “Conditions of My Parole” and “Man Overboard,” as well as older works like “Vagina Mine.”
The group sounded great, and gave the fans both a tremendous visual and aural experience. Keenan and Round especially sound terrific harmonizing together, while mostly silhouetted in darkness at the back of the stage. I can’t help but wonder if Keenan is planning to pull a Tony Clifton at some point in his career, but he’d be hard pressed to find someone to mimic his distinctive vocals.
At the end of the set, Keenan introduced the group members, Jeff Friedl, Matt McJunkins, Mat Mitchell, Josh Eustis, and Carina Round, and then offered a profound “thank you” to the crowd for supporting their independent project. The group then closed the show with “Tumbleweed.” What impressed me most about this entire performance is that Puscifer keeps evolving. The group has refined their performance to ensure the audience is riveted from start to end, and left wanting more.