To celebrate the release of their fourth full-length album, Puscifer– including members Maynard James Keenan, Carina Round, Mat Mitchell, Greg Edwards, and Gunnar Olsen– set their stage in the middle of the desert to perform the ultimate livestream experience.
Carefully planned in Arcosanti, the performance featured the band playing the entire album in full as they faced the elements outdoors.
The experience started by introducing the audience to Billy D, a frequent character in their music, as he drunkenly wanders, lost in the wilderness looking for Arcosanti. Reports state that he was last seen with a mysterious briefcase and was possibly abducted by aliens. Whether or not this was true, Puscifer, self-proclaimed secret agents, all go on a mission to appeal to the aliens through creating a series of strategically planned tracks out of the hope of finding the current location of Billy D.
Then, the landscape shifts, and we are roped in to the live performance of the album. The set was filled with various props, all uniquely set-up to each song in their set list– elevating stages, different contraptions attaching their microphones, and many different layers of screens depicting psychedelic and sci-fi visuals– all while in the the thick of the Arizona desert, with the sand and the cactuses, avoiding scorpions and snakes and all that comes with it.
Occasionally, the live performance would have cut scenes, pulling you through the story of finding Billy D. I was hoping that we would see more of what actually ended up happening to him, but they really leave it up to the interpretation of the listener and the experience; which is exactly something that Puscifer as a band would do.
The band members were decked out to the nines in their spyware; fully embodying the sounds they were creating, moving with the flow of their voices and enunciating each sound through every five of their being. Chelsea Round’s voice takes a showcase throughout the performance, and haunts the ears with her hypnotic sound while Maynard joins in with his signature sound. The video quality was crisp, lighting was beautifully staged and planned, and the visuals totally pulled you into the experience and long for live music’s return all the more. The audio was strategic, practiced, and well-performed; which not only goes to say that they’re live and performing, but it feels like every instrument is heard to the full level of their capabilities.
The live performance was in fact that strategically planned; every element carefully thought out as the production team filmed over the course of multiple days, and at different phases of the sun’s rise, set, and during the pitch black of the night.
“There’s an added pressure,” says Maynard in an interview with Joe Rogan, “because when you’re live and you f*** up, you can just move on to the next song, and forget it. Here, your face is being recorded and on film, and we put all this energy in perfecting everything and capturing the moments in full.”
Finishing off the performance was “Bedlamite,” where we witnessed the rise of the sun as they performed their conclusive message, “everything’s going to be all right.” And as the sun rose you could feel a swell of hope rise in you as the desert landscape was slowly revealed and the sun peeled over the horizon. The performance’s set was simple; putting the desert landscape on display.
And just when you think the show is over, and the credits roll, a scene opens out before us. Agents Carina and Maynard (aka Dick Merkin) stand on a karaoke bar stage; taking their break from their top secret work. Drunkenly, they stumble on the stage, alcohol in hand, and perform “Man Overboard.” Then, escorted by their fellow secret agent colleagues, they leave the stage. And then we see the mysterious briefcase, there in the bar, left behind.
Read our full album review of Existential Reckoning at the link below:
Existential Reckoning is now available on all streaming platforms.