Puscifer at the Uptown Theater

Per Wikipedia – Puscifer “simply a playground for the various voices in my head […] A space with no clear or discernible goals, […] where my Id, Ego, and Anima all come together to exchange cookie recipes”

See also, as some claim a pseudonym for Maynard James Keenan’s solo project. Keenan would probably be best known as the lead singer of Tool, or in some circles, no pun intended as the lead singer of A Perfect Circle. Both acts haven’t released any new material since 2006’s 10,000 days in the case of Tool and 2004’s Emotive for A Perfect Circle.

So Puscifer is what Keenan does when not making wine (Caduceus Cellars) and documentaries on it (Playing in KC 4/10 at the Screenland Armor!), or touring with Tool, or working on new A Perfect Circle material. He does keep busy, while also carrying a certain brand of mystique and wackiness that is all uniquely his.

Thus walking into the Uptown Theater Wednesday night I wasn’t sure what to expect. Puscifer as a live band have performed very few shows overall. The first Puscifer shows were staged only a little over a year ago last February in Las Vegas. Those shows, which featured some surprise guests then made their way a little further west to Los Angeles. Before long, however, the show would broaden it’s range including the current trek which brought the band east.

All I did know is that a friend of mine from Oregon urged me strongly to go. I had listened to  most of Puscifer’s releases and wondered how some of the tracks could be pulled off live. Not to mention having seen a couple of Tool shows in my time and knowing how interesting Keenan can always keep things I was already a bit of a lock.

Photo by Kelly Powell/Elements Studio

Not surprisingly, Puscifer delivered the goods. I arrived to opener Neil Hamburger heckling a crowd member for probably being a Britney Spears fan or still being in high school or perhaps a combination of the two. Hamburger’s brand of humor is a style of so bad it’s funny. I should also probably mention that he isn’t real. Think something similar to Tony Clifton.

After heckling/slaying a few more audience members and telling a joke about Metallica that really got some of the metal meat heads in the audience really revved up, Hamburger teased that he still had another fifty or so jokes to go. He didn’t and shortly after far too many Red Hot Chili Peppers jokes, left the stage. He would reappear later to interrupt the Puscifer show but it would have an interruption all it’s own.

Photo by Kelly Powell/Elements Studio

As the house lights dimmed for Puscifer and the band began to take the stage Keenan as “Major Douche’ a flask carrying military figure appeared on screen to lead the entire audience in a chant of Vagina. This is pretty much what I had hoped for jumping into this show. No not vagina, but that certain brand of wackiness that Kennan seems to bring to Puscifer who’s albums have titles like V is for Vagina and C is for (Please Insert Sophomoric Genitalia Reference HERE). Luckily, once you get past such absurd titles one finds a pretty great amount of depth and a wide variety of music styles.

Such would be the case with the show at the Uptown, maybe just lacking a bit of the musical depth as the two decidedly country tracks that Puscifer has released “Cuntry Boner” and “World up My Ass” were sadly missing from the set list this evening. Otherwise the set consisted of a good cross section of songs from the one LP and two EP’s they have output.

Opening with “Sour Grapes” from 2008′ s V is for… while a Christian type TV show played over head where a new prodigy (Keenan) was being brought out stuffing his face with donuts while wearing one of the most obnoxious though comical track suits I think I have ever laid eyes on. The music and the video were tightly interwoven to the point that once the video began to take a break right on cue the band launched into the full song. It was followed by “Revelation 22:20” which would see Keenan take a break. The stage was an interesting thing in it’s own right. There were a couple of couches with coffee tables  that took up the center part of the stage. Any time a band member wasn’t needed they would take a seat enjoying some of Keenan’s wine, some cheese and crackers or partake in a little web surfing or twittering.

All was well until something went slightly astray. It seems a power transformer blew right toward the middle to latter half of “Revelation 22:20,” thanks KCP&L for running my show. The band would take a quick break while the crew brought everything back online to thank fully avoid any crisis.

Photo by Kelly Powell/Elements Studio

This is best a time to mention that this was a fairly production heavy show. Keenan shared vocal duties with Carina Round, the only time they would be seen is when taking a break. Both of them spent singing time behind video monitors that had a fish eyed camera lens on them while they were singing. Keenan sported sun glasses the entire performance, while Round seemed to take great advantage of the monitor and throw both beauty, I would sit through any of her classes as the head nun, and the occasional fun odd ball wide eyed face out at the crowd. The rest of the band filled the stage to the left and right of them. The big screen above the band would alternate between video that seemed to be closely timed with the music and videos telling the story of a deity that talks out it’s ass. The band were in on the act as they were all dressed as a priest, in addition to a Pope, or as the band called him, “the poop” who would later turn to a certain male anatomy-loving alter boy and Round as a Nun.

Photo by Kelly Powell/Elements Studio

Once all six monitors on the stage, plus the giant screen were back up and running the band didn’t waste anytime retaking the stage and ripped right into “Dozo,” another track from the V is for…

I am not sure if it was the power outage or the fact that it was a Wednesday, but the crowd seemed a bit confounded about how they should act. Security was coming down on any one pulling out a cell phone or flip video to capture a small keepsake of the performance. They would spring out of the woodwork as soon as an LCD screen shot it’s way up into the air. Being that this was also an all reserved seats show, the only one I have ever been to at the Uptown, I think people weren’t sure if they should sit or stand. When the band first took the stage most every one in the center section stood up for the first four minutes or so before quickly sitting back down and remaining that way until “Queen B” late into the set, and only when Round gestured all to rise.

It was a bit unfortunate that it was such a dull crowd. I could tell there were some true fans in the crowd that were ‘rocking out’ in their own way in a sea of dullards. Thankfully, as a fan of the band they were on and giving it their all for a seemingly indifferent audience.

Overall, I left the show satisfied with the band’s performance but very disappointed in the crowd’s response to the band. Sure I had a great time but a certain energy was lacking. And I wonder why acts seem to be skipping Kansas City left and right as of late. I think Wednesday night may have been a piece of evidence as to why.

Set list:
Sour Grapes
Rev 22:20
The Undertaker
Drunk With Power
Momma Sed
Indigo Children
Polar Bear
Vagina Mine
Queen B
The Mission
Humbling River

Words by John Coovert

Photos By Kelly Powell / Elements Studio

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