Puscifer Brings Special Agents (and SPAM) to Kansas City

Maynard as Agent Dick Merkin at the Midland Theater in Kansas City. Photo by Josh Chaikin

As the year draws to a close, the concert season is still going strong. Kansas City played host to two large events, just blocks apart. TOOL front-man’s “creative subconscious” side project, PUSCIFER at the Midland, and REBA MCENTIRE at the T-Mobile Center, where TOOL played earlier this year.

Touring in support of their 4th studio album, EXISTENTIAL RECKONING, PUSCIFER warned the audience of extra terrestrial activities on Earth, which the band (dressed as Secret Agents) were there to investigate. Maynard Special Agent Dick Merkin would go on to explain that they discovered a cloning facility that was “extraterrestrial in nature”, and that these clones were infiltrating the red carpet. Showing how the Tiger King, Justin Bieber, all split from the same clone embryo. Who knew?

Our education didn’t stop there. In fact, the show opened with a video showing how SPAM is made. (Spoiler: it’s made from people who can’t keep their phones in their pockets while attending concerts). The point was further driven home when, towards the end of Postulus, recurring character Billy D. appeared in front of the stage, with his cell phone held aloft. He was quickly carried off-stage to chants of “SPAM! SPAM! SPAM!”

If TOOL uses its lightshow, like a 90’s era Windows Media Player visualizer, to enhance the show, PUSCIFER goes in another direction completely. From the campy videos, to the bumbling Merkin bemoaning how “Kansas Shitty” is a terrible name for a city, and dancing MIB agents, the concert almost becomes what Kilroy was Here could’ve been, if Dennis DeYoung were granted full creative control. Though PUSCIFER delivers it all heavily tongue in cheek.

The music, with the heavy use of synths, and ethereal sounding vocals sounded almost extraterrestrial themselves. Is Merkin an ET, and infiltrated the MIB? Maybe. He wasn’t around for the finale, instead Billy D. sang Bedlamite, while an alien appeared onstage.

Like any of Maynard James Keenan’s projects, PUSCIFER doubles down on the esoteric. And while it may not have any treatments built around the Fibonacci sequence, it definitely comes in as weird. With aliens, clones, and dancing MIB agents, it’s a Fringe Festival project with an unlimited budget. Weird? Absolutely, but only in the best possible way.

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