While one could easily recall Maynard James Keenan as the vocalist of one of alternative and prog metal’s most renowned bands that formed in the nineties, one of rock’s most whimsical icons is also responsible for bringing his own wine into the world, along with his primary focal point in music called Puscifer. With his extraordinary band returning to Australia for the second time in their career, Puscifer brought a new dosage of entertainment to the table, switching from the ‘Vagina Airlines’ stage theme to ‘Lucha Libre’, as part of the “Money Shot” album.
What felt like an auditorium where university students do their exams, the Plenary venue at the Convention Centre felt like a great venue for a diverse, multimedia project. On the side of the stage were some seats that were there for those that purchase special VIP packages for the night to sit in during the opening act Luchafer. Luchafer consisted of one man and one woman on each team (red and blue), including one wearing full black, bringing out drinks to the teams.
Within the half hour of side-splitting Lucha Libre, the wrestlers would go into comedic approaches as well as well-choreographed fights between the wrestlers. The black outfitted fighter would get involved and was able to knock out all of his opponents and swing himself around the ring with very impressive blows.
Once Luchafer had their moment in the spotlight, one of Maynard’s alter-egos named Sergeant Douche gave (unexpectedly random) orders to the audience on how to stay in the speed limit, and urging them to never pull out any recording items during Puscifer’s set. From there, Puscifer walked onstage, with Maynard and Carina Round getting into the ring, in front of their custom made microphones to perform the first routine of songs that included Simultaneous, Galileo and Agostina. Maynard kept himself away from the stage lights while singing and wearing a wrestling mask with his signature mohawk sticking out from the top.
Even though Maynard wasn’t seen to be the most talkative type in the past, he had his moments where he would briefly communicate with the crowd. He would eventually, encourage the audience to get out of their seats and come closer to the stage before Puscifer performed Horizons. Dozens of patrons from the Gala seatings would then dash quickly to get closer to where the stage’s barrier was.
All throughout the group’s two hour set, Puscifer executed a number off 2015’s “Money Shot”, counting a handful of the tracks from “Conditions of My Parole” such as Telling Ghosts, Man Overboard and The Rapture as well as a few selections from “V Is For Vagina” and the “Donkey Punch the Night” EP. Maynard’s right hand partner Carina Round would share the vocal melodies with Keenan and even change instruments between songs, from the mandolin to the banjo to an electric Fender.
After introducing his fellow cohorts, Maynard then goes onto a short description of what the meaning of Puscifer’s name holds – which was the representation of the womb of a female, stating that it’s the creator of humanity. After explaining the band’s moniker, Maynard then announces the last two songs The Humbling River and Autumn as a tribute to all the women taking part in the Woman’s March in the U.S.
Overall, the entire evening was nothing short of an extravagant experience. Whether you’ve seen Puscifer before or not, each time you see them, there’s always going to be something about their shows that will make you feel like you’re on a heavy trip of ecstasy (no drug reference). But, another thing that makes Puscifer extra special, is that Maynard feels more at home with this project the same way as he is back in Arizona, back at his wine vineyards. So, no doubt, would he and his bandmates put more passion into the music they execute onstage and in the studio.
PUSCIFER and Luchafer, Plenary, Melbourne Convention Center – 22nd January 2017
Review by: Callum Doig
Photography by: Bethany Mafrici