The evening before Halloween, Orlando, FL was treated to a very special concert event. A Perfect Circle would be performing at the CFE Arena, which is located at the University of Central Florida. This was going to be a great event for two reasons. First, A Perfect Circle is touring off their newest album ‘Eat The Elephant’, which is their 4th album since ‘Emotive’ 14 years ago! So the Orlando crowd was excited for new music and getting to see them perform it. And second, the CFE Arena is small but has some great acoustics. No matter where you are sitting or standing in the area it is an amazing view. There was no doubt in my mind this was going to be a phenomenal show.
When I arrived at the arena there was a huge crowd waiting outside before the doors opened. Once getting inside I went to the waiting area with my other friends in media. When it was time we were led out to the arena floor to the soundboard where we would be photographing the acts that night. All around the arena were signs stating no photography and no video recording was allowed and that people would be removed from the arena if caught doing either one. It sounds a bit extreme, but there’s a reason for it, which I’ll discuss later. The show was nearly sold out and when the lights dimmed, the opener Night Club came to the stage.
Night Club is the duo of Mark Brooks and Emily Kavanaugh. Residing from Los Angeles, CA, the two perform, as their website describes, “dark electronic music” since 2012. They released their first single “Lovestruck” in July 2012 and their self-titled EP in September 2012. Since that point, the band released two additional EPs and even had their music appear on MTV’s The Jersey Shore and Awkward television shows. They composed the music for the entire Season 1 of Comedy Central’s Moonbeam City in 2015. They released their first studio album, ‘Requiem for Romance’ in October 2016 and are now touring off their second studio album, ‘Scary World’ released on August 24, 2018.
Emily provides the vocals with Mark handling the music. Emily was energetic on the stage trying to get the Orlando crowd on their feet. Their lighting flipped from a mixture of dark blues and reds with flashes of white beams of light primarily over Mark. The crowd seemed to enjoy them providing the band some great cheers when they finished their set.
Next to the stage was Tricky. A record producer and rapper from Bristol, UK, he started his musical career in 1987 with The Wild Bunch which later on became Massive Attack. They released their debut album in 1991. Tricky went solo years later and released his debut album ‘Maxinquaye’ in 1995. He went on to release 12 more studio albums with his latest ‘Ununiform’ released on September 22, 2017. Tricky’s music has been labeled as “trip hop” which is a mix of hip-hop and electronic music. Tricky came out to the stage with very dark orange lighting where you could barely see the artists on stage. His mix of electronic music I would describe as dark and chilling. The lack of lighting set a tone Tricky wanted to bring to the fans that evening. The crowd didn’t seem too into it at first, but by the end of the set the crowd was cheering and applauding loudly.
Finally, A Perfect Circle was ready to come to the stage. The band formed in 1999 by guitarist, Billy Howerdel, and vocalist, Maynard James Keenan. Billy was a guitar tech for Fishbone and met Maynard when Tool was opening for Fishbone. The two became friends and Billy lived with Maynard for a short time and during then Billy had opportunities to play some of his demo work for Maynard. From there, they realized the potential for a new band and found the other members to complete A Perfect Circle. Their first release, ‘Mer de Noms’ came out on May 23, 2000. The album debuted on the Billboard 200 at #4 and eventually was certified Platinum. Maynard now leading two bands he considered equally important, went back to Tool for their next album before returning to A Perfect Circle to release their second album, ‘Thirteenth Step’, which was released on September 13, 2003. The album debut at #2 on the Billboard 200 and ended up being certified as Platinum. The band released their third album just a year later on Election Day, November 2, 2004 titled ‘Emotive’. The album was a group of cover songs with a political theme. The album opened at #2 on the Billboard 200, but would only go to be certified as Gold. The band took a hiatus from 2004-2010 to work on separate projects. After 2010 the band did some touring and had a number of festival appearances. In 2017 the band went back on tour again and announced a new album was coming. Their fourth album, ‘Eat the Elephant’ was released on April 20, 2018. A Perfect Circle is Maynard James Keenan (vocals), Billy Howerdel (lead guitar, keyboards), James Iha (rhythm guitar, keyboards), Matt McJunkins (bass), and Jeff Friedl (drums). Greg Edwards was stepping in as a touring rhythm guitarist and keyboards as James was still touring with The Smashing Pumpkins.
The band opened up with the title track from ‘Eat The Elephant’. It’s a very slow and melodic tune where Maynard provides us with amazing vocals. His voice is so beautiful in the song you can’t help but feel pulled into the song. The stage set up was very interesting with three circles all incrementally higher than the next. Greg was on the lowest one to the left, Maynard on the next highest in the middle, and Jeff on the highest one on the far right. And with the lighting, most of them were silhouettes, except Matt and Billy who were towards the front of the stage bathed in light every now and then. The most interesting part was seeing Maynard who was definitely in a costume for pre-Halloween that night. They followed up with “Disillusioned” also from ‘Eat The Elephant’. This song picks up the pace a little and still maintains that A Perfect Circle style.
After finishing up my photographing them for the night, I went to my seat to enjoy the rest of the show. I never had the opportunity to see them perform live and they did not disappoint that evening. The band picked up the pace with “The Hollow” from ‘Mer de Noms’, “Weak and Powerless” from Thirteenth Step, and “Rose” from ‘Mer de Noms’. The crowd was getting into the upbeat pace some even dancing in the aisles. As the performance went on, “So Long, and Thanks For All the Fish” from ‘Eat the Elephant’ was a nice change of pace song. It is very upbeat and not something I would expect to hear from A Perfect Circle. Other songs they performed that evening included “Vanishing”, “3 Libras”, “The Contrarian”, and “The Doomed”. The light show on the stage and on the curtain behind them was a beautiful sight to behold. Honestly, I wish we had access to photograph the middle of the set which had some wonderful mixes of orange and reds along with symbols floating all around the back curtain.
Maynard addressed the crowd a few times during the night, primarily thanking them for their support. At one point he talked about Halloween and that he came dressed in costume (though no one could see him in it) and how pleased he was to see so many people come dressed as Floridians. Later in the evening, he explained how he came dressed as Beetlejuice and even tried to get the crowd to say his name three times. The crowd didn’t quite get it at first, which Maynard how to re-explain it before they got the chant of “Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice!” right. What I truly found intriguing was watching Maynard during songs when he wasn’t singing. Sometimes, he would pace around the circle wringing his hands and other times he seemed caught up in the music conducting the band.
A Perfect Circle closed out their set strong. First was “Judith” from ‘Mer de Noms’ the very first single from A Perfect Circle. Then was “The Package” from ‘Thirteenth Step’. A brilliant and lengthy song that is, to me, a quintessential A Perfect Circle song. I was very pleased they played it that night. Finally, they closed their 19 song set with “Delicious” from ‘Eat the Elephant’. Right before the song ended, Maynard told the crowd they could take out their phones to capture photos or video. He walked off his circle, waved to the crowd in the front row, and walked off the stage. The rest of the band finished off the song before bowing to the crowd and walking off stage.
A Perfect Circle provided a phenomenal performance for the crowd that night. A great mixture of songs from all their albums and they are truly amazing to see live. And though I wish I was able to capture some of those performances on video, it was actually nice to not trying to watch a show through someone holding their phone up in the air the entire night light long. Definitely catch them on tour so you can see their greatness for yourself.