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Puscifer delivers a feast of sights and sounds to Midland crowd

Puscifer, led by Maynard James Keenan of Tool, is an intriguing but creepy art rock act.
Puscifer, led by Maynard James Keenan of Tool, is an intriguing but creepy art rock act. File photo

Not much emerges from the music world these days that feels genuinely unique, but Puscifer’s Money Shot Tour qualifies.

Puscifer is the music/comedy/fashion troupe fronted by Maynard James Keenan, also the founder of the prog-metal band Tool and co-founder of the band A Perfect Circle. Sunday night, Puscifer performed at the Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland before about 1,800 fans, delivering a show that was extravagant and dynamic, visually and musically.

The theme was wrestling, more specifically, lucha libre (“free wrestling”), the Mexican style of wrestling characterized by wrestlers wearing colorful masks and employing rapid-fire series of high-flying moves. The cast included five wrestlers — luchadores — three men and two women, who grappled inside and outside a square wrestling ring raised behind the band.

The set list included the entire “Money Shot” album, save the iTunes exclusive “Flippant,” plus tracks drawn from Puscifer’s two other albums and three EPs. It all provided a soundtrack to the visuals onstage, which included lively graphics broadcast on a screen behind the wrestling ring, many of them psychedelic and hallucinogenic, and the precisely choreographed wrestling ballet, which included plenty of drop kicks, suplexes, pile drivers and body slams.

When they weren’t grappling, the luchadores split into red and blue teams and sat on bleachers that flanked the stage, gesturing menacingly at one another as the band played. They also played road crew a few times, moving microphones from the ring to the stage and back when needed. Vocals were delivered primarily from the ring by Keenan, dressed all in black, including a mask with an opening that accommodated his mohawk, and Carina Round.

The show opened with a one-man skit from Keenan, playing the role of Billy D., who, via two TV monitors on each side of the stage, lectured the crowd on how to behave. From there, the band moved seamlessly into “Simultaneous,” the first of 19 tracks. The show lasted more than two hours, including the wrestling performance by the troupe Luchafer, which preceded Billy D.’s rant.

The show unfolded like a narrative with a loose thread, an opera, of sorts, that wrestles, literally and figuratively, with the issues and tribulations that roil deep within Keenan’s subconscious. Some of it is tongue-in-cheek, some of it is overwrought and self-indulgent, especially the lyrics, but all of it was wildly entertaining.

Puscifer’s music is a mix of a few genres, including alternative rock, electronic rock and industrial metal. In addition to Keenan and Round, the band included drummer Jeff Friedl, former Ministry bassist Paul Barker, guitarist Mat Mitchell and keyboardist Juliette Commagere. All night, Keenan’s and Round’s vocals meshed beautifully, at times hauntingly, adding another dimension to the cinematic presentation.

Each component of the show was first-rate: the sound mix, the videos, the musical performance and the wrestling theatrics. It all added up to a show that was as memorable as it was unique.

Timothy Finn: 816-234-4781, @phinnagain

Set list

Simultaneous, Galileo, Agostina, Vagina Mine, Horizons, The Arsonist, The Remedy, Life of Brian (Apparently You Haven’t Seen), Rev 2:20, Grand Canyon, Polar Bear, Breathe, Toma, Telling Ghosts, Money Shot, Man Overboard, The Undertaker, Smoke and Mirrors, Autumn

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