by Sean Maciejewski
On a Tuesday evening, May 30th 2023, the band Puscifer performed at the Kodak Center in Rochester, NY. This would be my first time seeing them perform a live show and I honestly was just recently introduced to their music. The “Existential Reckoning Tour 3.0 - Global Probing" supports the recently (2023) reworked album Existential Reckoning:Rewired. So, with an open mind, I made my way into the venue. Upon entering I noticed signs all over stating that any cell phone usage during the show would be strictly enforced by removal from the venue. I found it odd that this could actually be enforced! There was a very long line at the merch table. Fans could purchase exclusive posters designed for each tour stop, limited run records, and T-shirts. I noticed that the venue was nearly full while fans waited for the opener to get the show started at 7:30.
The Los Angeles, California based electronic/goth/pop duo Night Club had the privilege to open the show. Formed in 2012, featuring Emily Kavanaugh on vocals and Mark Brooks playing Synth/DJ, the duo performed an 8 song set. Emily had an energetic stage presence. She made full use of the stage, prancing across and then getting down low, engaging with the crowd. Her vocals were refreshingly unique, with an innocent pop/goth sound. With a catchy beat and rhythm, the duo was slowly winning unfamiliar fans over to their style of music. The song “California Killed Me” was my favorite and I am still replaying it in my mind. Before the end of the set, Emily thanked the audience for coming out on a f***ing Tuesday night and pumped up the house to give a cheer for Puscifer! Fans were still on their feet, cheering and swaying to the beat as the last song ended.
Set List: Die In Disco, Schizophrenic, Your Addiction, Candy Coated Suicide, Show It 2 Me, California Killed Me, Dear Enemy, Scary World (per Setlist.fm)
Puscifer is the brainchild of Tool frontman, Maynard James Keenan. Formed in Los Angeles, California in 1995 as a side project, the current line up consists of Mat Mitchell (guitar,Synth), Carina Round (vocals,synth,guitar) and touring musicians Greg Edwards (bass,keys) with Gunnar Olsen on drums.
After a 30 minute intermission, the show promptly began at 8:30 with a video of agent Dick Merkin (MJ Keenan) endorsing the tasty meat SPAM. He then explained that if anyone was caught taking photos or videos during the show, they would be removed and become an ingredient in the tasty meat treat. I guess the no-phone policy was not to be taken lightly! The house lights dimmed and Puscifer walked on stage dressed in a “Men In Black” look of suits and sunglasses.The now-packed venue erupted into a frenzied cheer! From the start of the first song “Bread and Circus”, the show was a trippy visual and musical journey. The stage consisted of a drum kit sitting under a 15-foot-high platform and 3 large screens at the rear. Throughout the show, videos would play with glitches and skips, recreating a flawed signal that tied into the show. At the end of the second song, another MJ Keenan character, “Billy D”, is seen sneaking to the edge of the stage from the audience with a phone in hand. He is trying to get a picture during the show of all the “Agents”, but he’s quickly grabbed and hauled away across the stage, further reinforcing the no-phone rule. The crowd went absolutely wild after that! With a lengthy 18 song set, we had seen it all. Movie clips about alien and rogue cloning depicting famous people and their true lineage. Joining Puscifer on stage, the crowd was treated to several skits of other special agents coming and going. Several Aliens frequenting the stage in the background and eventually trying to do some “probing” of their own. Musically, the band was spot on. With a heavy techno beat driven by bass and drums, the sound was intense and mesmerizing. Adding to the sound was an 80s vibe of synthesizers and just right guitar, that tied it all together. Vocals were in on point, Keenan and Round nailed the performance! Speaking of Carina Round, many, many times during the show, a random shout could be heard from the crowd...”Love you Carina”. She is definitely a fan favorite! I am glad they performed my personal favorite song “The Humbling River”, it was a shortened version but sounded excellent nonetheless. Before the last song started, Keenan announced to the audience, “I guess you can take out your stupid phones now and record the show”. Out came the phones to capture a quick memory of the night. Puscifer won me over and I would love to see them again in the future. I highly recommend checking out a live show as you won’t be disappointed!
Set List: Bread and Circus, Postulous, Fake Affront, The Underwhelming, Grey Area, Theorem, UPGrade, Apocalyptical, The Remedy, Personal Prometheus, A Singularity,, Momma Sed, The Humbling River, Bullet Train to Iowa, Vagina Mine, Flippant, Conditions of My Parole, Bedlamite (per Setlist.fm)