Puscifer at the Merrill Auditorium – Portland, ME

Photos and Review by Sarah Smith
Show photos HERE
When I first arrived at the Merrill Auditorium for Puscifer, I had no idea what was to be expected. My listening experience with Maynard James Keenan falls mainly with A Perfect Circle, a dark band which I never tried to understand, just enjoy. But Puscifer’s sound was different; atmospheric and playful. Now I am no fan of wrestling whatsoever, but that’s how the first half an hour of the show began. A full on, WWE style wrestling match with luchador style masks. The skit began in a wrestling ring on stage; the fighters tossed themselves around on top of each other and others hit the ground. At one point I stood there, really questioning what I was watching. This seemed so obscure to me, but I let it in despite the fact that I could not understand any of it. After the fight, the stage went completely dark. A few moments went by and Keenan’s face showed up on two screens at both ends of the stage. The entire house was black, except for the two screens holding the audience’s focus. In this screen, Keenan rambled on about humanity and politics and what it all even meant. He then reminded his guests to listen to what their ticket stubs which stated, “No photography/videography,” and suggested his crowd stay present in the moment they were all sharing and enjoy the show.
When the rest of the band came out, the crowd all stood up from their seats and pushed forward. The wrestling ring stayed on stage as Keenan played from the center of it and sang behind a mask. The stage was filled with darkness and shadows, it was so mysterious. At the end of their first song, the four wrestlers came back out on stage and stood with their hands on their hips facing the audience. Confusion swept back over me. Why do they look like super heroes? I still do not get this at all, but I stayed with it as I listened to them play on a clearly packed stage. Puscifer played a lot of experimental, atmospheric melodies, but when they actually opened up and allowed themselves to be heard it was amazing. Everyone in the theatre was rocking and head banging, fists held high in the air.
As a Perfect Circle fan, I truly enjoyed this show even if I had a hard time understanding the conceptual aspect of it, and I am completely okay with that. I understand now that Keenan is a total genius and an artist. Puscifer is simply his playground, an area where he has the ability to experiment and every one of his fans will still love that about him and accept his works of art.

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