After a five year absence Puscifer triumphantly returns with not only their newest album Existential Reckoning but delivering it in a landmark live stream event from the Colly Soleri Amphitheater in Arcosanti, Arizona. As the bands 4th release since 2007’s “V” Is for Vagina, Puscifer is taking their original style of music to new heights with this record as they apply more electronica and synth elements this time around. The show marks the second in as many months that has been brought to you by leading concert promoter group Danny Wimmer Presents which always brings fans the highest quality in live entertainment, but this show would certainly prove to be a game changer for DWP and the band itself.
The start of our show has us following around famed Puscifer personality Billy D as he stumbles around the Arizona landscape in his signature tan leisure suit trying to find his way back to civilization or his way to the show itself (you be the judge). In his search he discovers a worn out couch over looking a canyon and plops down in exhaustion. As he looks out over the wide open terrain he yells in frustration “Where’s Arcosanit?!”. Next we’re transported to the sound of the synthesized intro of the albums first song “Bread and Circus“. As the camera pans around the stage we begin to see the silhouettes of the band through a thick cloud of smoke. Maynard James Keenan and Carina Round’s vocal combination creates such a hypnotic pairing and are in such unison it is as if it is one voice.
The smoke has almost fully removed itself from around the band as “Apocalyptical” starts to take shape. Our perspective is now looking out into the seating area of the venue where we can see LED panels with a man dancing on them as they are triggered with the lighting around the inner bowl of the amphitheater. Maynard and Carina engage in a vocal sparing match as guitarist Mat Mitchell plays over them creating a darker Talking Heads type of vibe. As the singers danced and swung around their mounted mic stands, they eventually make their way up the stairs away from the stage. As they make their assent, the camera stays in front of them as the two continue singing in stride while they walk to a second stage area where the band is already playing as if they were there the whole time.
For the second stage setup of the night, the band now performs under an archway leading into the venue where Maynard and Carina now stand on a platform up overlooking the rest of the band. The X setup separates the remaining members with visual panels giving them their own space to work. “The Underwhelming” proved to have a more upbeat rhythm and consist of more rock elements than others up to this point. “The Grey” immediately takes on a futuristic approach both audibly and visually. Drummer Gunnar Olsen provided the powerful beat behind this sample infused track that looked as if it fueled the robotic movements of both Maynard and Carina as they sang, as well as the out of this world visuals on the display panels. For all the older fans as myself, you may have taken notice that through the song Carina Round sporting a vintage Nintendo Power Glove.
For the bands next song, they added a music video segment to the track “Theorem“. What starts off as the band performing live in black and white, we soon see a car driving down the highway as Maynard throws a hard look from the passenger side window as they look for an important stainless steel suitcase. The song itself has Mat Mitchell playing something very to similar to something from Close Encounters of the Third Kind as the main riff. What started off as a slower kind of hypnotic tempo picked up as we switched back to color and now became more driven behind Mitchells guitar playing. “Upgrade” brought fans back to the days of MS-DOS as the displays behind the band would show select words pulled from the lyrics as command prompts. The green lighting and computer voice made the viewers feel like they themselves where in the system for this part of the set.
“Bullet Train to Iowa” really gave us those signature Maynard James Keenan vocals that we all love to hear. Dynamic and commanding which at the perfect times were complimented along with Carina Rounds almost operatic harmonies. This was also another stellar display of Mat Mitchell’s guitar work as his voicing and phrasing acts at times like a third vocalist. As the song concludes we now see the band and their entire stage setup outside in the Arizona desert. The aerial views look it could be something from another planet as red and purple lights shoot up into the sky like endless pillars of light. As the camera comes down to ground level it begins to pan around the perimeter we catch the silhouettes of cactus’ and dried brush while shooting stars fly across the display panels.
“Personal Prometheus ” would kick off the third act followed by “A Singularity“. Both were equally as atmospheric and moving as one song seemed to carry you right into the other. These songs are really pulled together by the ambiance of the stunning visuals, superb camera work and emotional layered samples. “Postulous” starts off with Carina Round entering in an audio sample fueled by a high energy drum beat and a rapid fire vocal bridge. The song’s chorus had Maynard and Carina’s voice echo off endlessly through the black Arizona sky. Looking down from above we see outer worldly symbols changing in the darkness before Maynard James Keenan opening line “Heard it all before” intros “Fake Affront“.
As Gunnar Olsen beats into the last song of the show with “Bedlamite“, the sun is starting to crack the horizon out in the distance. This track would be another fine example of the vocal synchronicity between Keenan and Round as their verses take on an angelic level. With every frame ending, the sun rises more and more revealing all of the people that helped turned this show into such a huge success. When the song starts to wind down, we get a great shot panning away from the stage out into the valley with the sun now up above in the distance. And as the last guitar note rings out we see Maynard James Keenan and Carina Round facing each other high above the ground as they make their final pause of the show.
After watching this show 5 or 6 times I am still amazed at what Puscifer and their production team was able to achieve for this show. It was such an interesting venue to begin with but to create 3 different stage areas within one show was truly inventive. The visual effects and lighting created such an immersive experience and the impressive camera work covered every angle leaving nothing missed. I have watched and reviewed quiet a few streams since the pandemic and this was hands down the most creative, original and artistic show I’ve seen yet. Danny Wimmer Presents really out did themselves going two for two with their stream events and we can only hope they have more shows lined up. After only a week Existential Reckoning is already swimming in a sea of rave reviews by fans and critics alike while the demand for the show was so great it has resulted it being available for an additional 6 days. With only 2 days left head over to PusciferLive to get your tickets to the show of the year. To pick up your copy of Existential Reckoning go to Puscifer.com or visit all major streaming platforms. To keep up to date with all of Danny Wimmer Presents news and announcements go to DWP.