Puscifer at Ikeda Theater at Mesa Arts Center, 12/9/11

Puscifer Ikeda Theater at Mesa Arts Center Friday, December 9, 2011

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"I've read through that handbook for the recently deceased. It says: 'Live people ignore the strange and unusual. I, myself, am strange and unusual." -Lydia Deetz

So, Maynard James Keenan has a flair for the theatrical. Given his reputation, it's an obvious fact, but hearing about his theatrics and watching him in action are totally different things. Keenan's musical collective Puscifer, put the dramatics on display at last night's sold-out show, bringing the Conditions of My Parole Tour to Ikeda Theater in the Mesa Arts Center.

Before the show, a series of hilarious videos clips featuring the several personas Keenan and his troupe have invented aired. After the chuckles subsided, Puscifer then set the stage. I don't mean they came out drums and guns blazing, I mean they literally set the stage.

With nothing more than a blank white canvas backdrop on stage, Keenan emerged in a black cowboy hat and painfully slowly wheeled out a small pristine silver camper from the shadows of the side stage. Over the course of 10 minutes he proceeded to park the vehicle and set up camping chairs, tables, and a faux barbecue grill. Vocalist Carina Round, who opened for Puscifer, then stepped out from the trailer to help with arranging the rest of the pseudo "hippie drum circle." While he worked, Keenan spoke about the desert, sustainability, survival and most importantly, an artistic and utilitarian balance; the essence of Puscifer according to Keenan.

After rolling out a giant Radio Flyer wagon that carried the drums, the sextet ripped into "Green Valley," the second track off of the new album, and "Tiny Monsters." From that point on it was like a deranged Pentecostal sermon with Keenan leading the way, and his faithful disciples in the crowd.

Loud drum hits and industrial beats rocked the theater floor, twangy guitar riffs bounced off of the walls, and Keenan and Round filled the air with celestial crooning.

Video clips continued to play throughout the set as they played up the western theme, often times poking fun at some of Arizona's funnier stereotypes like the state's conservative Republicans, liberal Republicans, and Republican-Republican inhabitants.

Fans roared with approval at the opening notes of songs like "Vagina Mine" and "Rev 22:20"; tracks that let each musician flex their considerable talents. Although Keenan's been doing this whole "rocker" thing for a while now his vocals soared, alternating between low droning and far reaching screeches. They paired perfectly with Round's angelic whispers as the two swayed in a ghoulish grave-digging like motion for much of the night.

After an hour and 45-minutes Puscifer wrapped up, thanking concertgoers for supporting what is, "clearly an Arizona album," Keenan said. The night was indeed strange and unusual, but also hypnotizing and sexy.

Critics Notebook:

Last Night: Puscifer at Mesa Arts Center

Personal Bias: I also like to wear a lot of black.

The Crowd: Darkly-dressed denizens of the night.

Set List: Green Valley Tiny Monsters Vagina Mine Dozo Toma The Rapture The Weaver Rev 22:20 Polar Bear Indigo Children Oceans Monsoons Man Overboard Conditions of My Parole Telling Ghosts The Undertaker Tumbleweed

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Anthony Sandoval
Contact: Anthony Sandoval