Luchafer & Puscifer @ Ancienne Belgique (AB), Brussels, and @ Rockhal, Luxembourg. First of it may seem odd to review two different shows in one go, but considering that they were back to back and complemented each other, for me it’s the best way to review them. Second, in case you still plan to go see the “money shot heard around the world” tour, stop reading now, and just go see them, and go early! If you have an open mind you won’t be disappointed!
It has been 2 years since I first saw Puscifer, and since in 2014 I saw both nights of Cinquanta, I figured it was a good idea to go see them at least twice this tour as well. Considering that now on their 3rd full length album, and a myriad of other releases, Puscifer has come to Europe for the first time, I was sure that one night, would just not be enough of a fix for me. And I was right, having seen 2 nights, I still want to see more! Fortunately for me, as soon as the tour was announced, Luxembourg was included, and when Brussels was added the night before, I knew these would be the 2 shows I’d see as they were fairly convenient, and back to back with only a relatively short drive between them. And knowing that Rockhal does not always sound ideal I wanted to make sure to have the best possible experience and so Ancienne Belgique was a solid choice.
Sunday the 12th was in Brussels, and I left fairly early in the afternoon, in order to be on time. I had no idea yet what to expect, but I was sure I would not want to miss a thing, and was pretty much excited as a kid on Christmas Eve. At 8 pm sharp Luchafer took the stage, and well, they took but a moment or two to bring me into a state of confusion and questioning what the fuck is going on. Certainly not what I would expect as an opener for a concert, a Lucha wrestling feast, with the battle for the Key of something or other. First the characters are introduced, and then the wrestling ring is revealed. The rest of the stage setup was already in place with the drums in front of the ring, a small podium with keyboards to the right of the ring, and a small podium to the left of it for bass and guitar. On the left and right of the stage there were small screens that played the commentator for the match. And then there was 1 small stand for spectators, randomly chosen from the crowd before the show, on each side of the stage. The humor employed was excellent, that is if you’re open minded. Some people may find parts of it offensive, such as the pussy punch that turns into a submission through vagina, but I think it’s hilarious! Somewhere between comedy and an actual wrestling match, Luchafer puts on a great show, with some really gnarly moves, and some great laughs! Essentially two opposing wrestling couples, that end up being beaten by the mysterious wine guy, who ends up stealing the key. The show lasted for about 30 minutes, and was followed by a service announcement by Major Douche on the importance of reading, and what speed limit signs are for, concluding with the mission of the night being entertainment, and forbidding all types of recording! And if you’re still thinking you need to watch the show through a screen, well, you’re a dummy, and dummies got to go. I highly appreciated this rule, and the fact that it was rigorously enforced by the security team. Kudos as well to most of the crowd who just obliged, and was happy to just enjoy and experience the show. The last of Major Douche’s announcement was: and now; Puscifer, Puscifer, Puscifer! Which was followed by loud cheers!
The actual musical part of the show, although for me it’s all one show, and not to be separated began with a version of Simultaneous with a new intro by Billy D, also shown on the small screens. The gist of the speech was that even though we think we are far evolved as humans, we are essentially still capable of the same barbaric actions as our forefathers from all time. But that even though were are capable of pure barbarism, humans also hold the capacity for enormously good, selfless acts of heroism. The rendition of Simultaneous was extremely powerful, and dissipated any fear of sound problems or lack of crystal clearness right from the start. Maynard and Carina Round stood in the ring, above the band and crowd which added a sort of royal feel to their presence. Maynard wore a suit, and Lucha mask, and Carina a suit (a dress on night 2), and fortunately not hiding her beauty behind a mask! Both voices sounded just spectacular right from the start, and it was clear why both are such highly respected musicians! Phenomenal!
Act 1: 1: Simultaneous (with Billy D evolution of Humanity talk) 2: Galileo 3: Agostina
After the first few songs, there was a short intermission where the musicians sat on the side stands, and the wrestlers took over the ring and stage again. A short video on the large screen signaled the beginning of Act 2 with a classic “ring bell” and wrestler in a pink tutu.
Act 2: 4: Vagina Mine 5: Horizons 6: The Arsonist 7: The Remedy
Another short intermission of wrestling, and off we went into act 3 with another funny video.
Act 3: 8: Life of Brian (Apparently you haven’t seen) 9: Rev 22:20 (Carina Round Version – killing it!!!) 10: Grand Canyon 11: The Rapture (Fear is a Mind Killa Mix) 12: Breathe
The last intermission was actually the shortest, but also the funniest, when they staged a mechanical cock fight and Maynard said something about him being unable to get his cock to do anything, before getting back into the music.
Act 4: 13: Toma 14: Telling Ghosts (shorter intro more powerful version) 15: Flippant (reworked much more groovy version) 16: Conditions of my Parole (vocals on megaphone – with Major Douche messages) 17: Money Shot 18: Man Overboard 19: (Cast introductions) 20: The humbling River (AB – Brussels) / Smoke and Mirrors (Rockhal – Luxembourg) 21: Autumn
The 2nd show was on Monday at the Rockhal Box in Luxembourg. It was essentially the same show, with the exception of Smoke and Mirrors being played instead of the Humbling River. And despite having seen it the night before, for me it felt everything but repetitive, if anything, having seen it the night before, made me appreciate it even more. The reason being, as now I had somewhat of an idea what was to come it was easier for me to let go and fully immerse myself in the wrestling show, and thus setting my mood even better for the rest of the evening. The first night I went by myself, and the 2nd one with friends. They all asked me how it was, but I said nothing more than it was excellent, and that no matter what, they should be inside for the start, as they were under the impression Luchafer would be some opener, and would thus have missed an integral part of the show. And I did not want to take away even the slightest bit of surprise, which turned out to be very funny for me, when I saw their dumbfounded and confused looks as it progressed. I think the fact that Lucha wrestling is not that popular in Europe made the effect of Luchafer even more intense, leaving a lot of people simply wondering “what the fuck”. But this confusion and that feeling of insecurity about what can possibly follow such an intro make the rest of the show even better, as essentially your expectations are brutally voided and thus you can actually have your mind blown even more by the band!
The stage and production area at the Rockhal are larger than at AB, so the stage setup was a little bit different as well. The drums were not on stage right away, but actually wheeled in after Luchafer, which was nice for the wrestling, as everything was more visible, but put a little break on the fluidity of the night. In Brussels, it was just quicker to get from the wrestling into the music. Not an issue, just a little difference. On the other hand the larger stage meant that things were a bit more spaced out, and this gave a more airy feel to the production at Rockhal. The AB room is also somewhat smaller, and has balconies, which gave the first night more of a packed feeling, and an additional sensation of intensity through heat. The second night the crowd was probably about the same in number, but due to the size of the venue, was a bit more spread out, which took out a bit of intensity but added the freedom of plenty of space to dance and freak out to the tunes of freaking Puscifer! Both venues had the same large screen behind the band, and the visuals throughout the entire night are somewhere between wow, mind-blowing, and funny as hell!
During act 4 there was a small break for the introduction of the evenings cast, and yeah what a cast it is! Luchafer on madness and atmosphere, Jeff Friedl on drums, Paul Barker on bass, Mahsa Zargaran from Omniflux on backing vocals, keyboards, guitars and good vibes. Mat Mitchell on Guitar. Carina Round on vocals, banjo and more. And of course Maynard James Keenan on Vocals. All of which are just great musicians, and talented showmen. But the most amazing one to me is Carina Round, her voice, and stage presence, the way she moves, the way she dances, are just an enormous part of what Puscifer is. Carina and Maynard, just make a perfect pair on stage, yin and yang, or two sides of the same coin perfectly playing off each other. Both of them just sounded incredible, and thus also kudos to the sound technician, who did an incredible job both nights, and especially at Rockhal, where many bands fail due the nature of the venue and the poor work of the sound tech. Maynard was a bit more chatty the 2nd night. Just before introducing the cast he looked at Mat and said: remember I told you I like playing in Luxembourg; this is why; (pointing at the crowd that had been cheering thunder for quite a while, actually keeping Maynard from beginning to introduce the cast.) Indeed I have rarely heard such a “small” crowd make so much noise, although in this case quite understandably, as most of them just had their minds blown. Maynard also made reference to a joke with Jeff being the inventor of the scorpion kick, which Jeff proceeded to demonstrate, and is something like a horse kick followed by a spinning dance kick. He also said something about Mahsa which sounded something like “Mrs. pubic…” something or other, but I am not 100% sure.. Probably another inside tour joke. He also thanked the crowd for coming out, and supporting them as they are 100% an independent production, and thus rely on the fans to be able to make their art what it is!
After the show I heard some people “complain” about the setlist wishing for a few more older songs, which I think was normal considering that Money Shot is already the 3rd album, add all the Ep’s and the fact that this was the first time in Europe, and most people here never having had the chance to see the older songs, it can be seen as a normal reaction. But everyone agreed that it had simply been mind-blowing! And that is the most important part of it all! We just got our asses kicked (both nights), and I don’t think you can find another act out in the music world today that is even comparable to Puscifer. So if you like live music, and a good show, do yourself a favor, and go see them!!!! I for one will, and fairly likely will make it a tradition to go see them at least 2 consecutive nights.
I hope Puscifer will go on and release many more albums, and tour extensively, and I hope one day they’ll have a fan base that is open enough to let them fully express all their weirdness and madness! I think they show a lot of it already, but I am also certain that there is much more to come if we, the crowd, are able to keep up with them! So develop your ability to appreciate the unexpected, and keep on listening to Puscifer!