Words By: Gerrod Harris
Following the release of 2015’s Money Shot, Puscifer have embarked on the second leg of their tour, entitled as the Money Shot Tour, Round Two. The band, fronted by Tool vocalist, Maynard James Keenan, along with Luchafer, hit up Toronto’s Sony Centre for the Performing Arts on Wednesday, April 6th, marking the only Canadian stop on their tour, aside from their set at this year’s upcoming Amnesia Rock Fest in Montebello, Quebec.
Like many fans, I was expecting Luchafer to be an opening band, likely of the progressive rock cannon. Oh how mistaken was I. Firstly, Luchafer were as much of a show opener as they were also a part of Puscifer’s set as they would frequently wrestle in between, and sometimes, oddly enough, during, songs, and secondly, they were no band, but rather a luchador inspired wrestling troupe. The first twenty minutes or so was a tag team match only to be interrupted by a hostile fifth wrestler who took them all on to win. While the wrestling itself was more than exciting to watch and made for an acrobatic display of athleticism, the heart of their performance was humor. This was a theatrical, slapstick wrestling comedy, equipped with all the retro sound effects needed for a Saturday morning cartoon, along with a sexy edge. Yes for every over the top flip and grappling takedown, vulgarities were uttered, asses were slapped, and pelvises were thrust. Luchafer made for a uniquely strange but incredibly bizarre but entertaining prelude to Puscifer’s set.
Greeted by a pre-recorded video of Keenan on two monitors dressed as a military officer warning fans not to take any pictures or videos, the show picked up with the ambient instrumental of “Simultaneous” as another video of Keenan appeared, this time dressed rather eccentrically, discussing the de-evolution of humanity, and described that the selfless acts of the few are examples we should all aspire too. By the time the video finished, the band came together, performing the final chorus of “Simultaneous”. Still using the wrestling ring from earlier, Keenan, along with his partner in crime, Carina Round, stood together in the ring, with the keys to one side, guitar and bass on the other, and the drums front and centre, similar to what is depicted in their recent music video for “The Remedy”. One thing which greatly stuck out was the band’s use of lighting as not only a way to illuminate certain aspects of the show, but also to shroud them, especially Keenan, in a smoky and mysterious haze. When he could be seen, he was dressed beyond shark, sporting a suit and a black luchador mask and a slit on the top of his hear for his wiry mohawk to hang out of. This jarring contrast of spiffy and edgy gave him a look that very few could pull off, making it even cooler.
Musically, it goes without a doubt that Puscifer are beyond the level of most bands. Their ability to string together songs which shift in meter from one odd time signature to another is impeccable and the songs from Money Shot, which, with the exception of “Smoke And Mirrors”, they performed in its entirety, translated flawlessly into a live setting. Songs of the likes of “Galileo”, “Grand Canyon” and “The Arsonist” were exceptional, and unlike at most concerts, it was quite apparent that a majority of the audience had listened to and were familiar not just with their older works, but the recent material from Money Shot. Older favorites, such as “Vagina Mine”, “Breathe”, “The Rapture”, and “Conditions Of My Parole”-for which Keenan belted through a megaphone as he nonchalantly leaned from the ropes of the ring-were also performed.
The constant duel harmonies between Keenan and Round are some of the best, not only due to each individual singer’s excellent voices, but also the consistency of quality throughout the entire performance has their vocals countered and weaved in between the others. Round was also given a solo feature over “Rev 22:20”, a song from Keenan’s previous project, A Perfect Circle, pumping the song to life with a sleek and raunchy vibe. Keenan’s voice sounds just as it does on each of his recordings; a tonal quality that gives him one of the best voices of modern rock, and when paired with Round, the two make one of the best vocal duos I have ever heard. It is for this reason that I suspect Puscifer chose to conclude their set on a softer note with “The Humbling River” and “Autumn”, two mellow songs which the band intensely played following the explosive third act of the show. While this may sound anticlimactic, it was nothing of the sort! Puscifer’s Money Shot era of has demonstrated a level of refined musicianship, sophisticated song writing, and pure brilliance; a definite cut above their past work, it only made sense for them to end on such a note which indulged in such excellence. Puscifer exceeded my already high expectations with an extravaganza of lucha libre wrestling and a career spanning set of tight polyrhythmic songs.
4: Vagina Mine
6: The Arsonist
7: The Remedy
8: Life of Brian (Apparently You Haven’t Seen)
9: Rev 22:20
10: Grand Canyon
11: The Rapture (Fear is a Mind Killa Mix)
14: Telling Ghosts
16: Conditions of My Parole
17: Money Shot
18: Man Overboard
19: The Humbling River