303 Music

Puscifer with Moodie Black at Mission Ballroom in Denver, CO on 07/06/22 – Live Show Review


The Puscifer event poster featured an alien in a mankini getting out of a spaceship. It was a glimpse of the strangeness about to start. It’s been six years since Puscifer toured. The crowd for the sold-out show was extremely excited to see Puscifer’s Existential Reckoning tour. As proof, the line for merch went through the lobby continued into the ballroom and winded back into the lobby. 

The band started out as a joke when Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan appeared on the sketch comedy series Mr. Show in 1995. He later decided to make it a real band. When Keenan isn’t making music for his other bands (Tool and A Perfect Circle) or tending to his winery, he creates synthesizer driven performance-art music with Puscifer.

Keenan’s band members have played with prominent musicians in the business: Singer-multi-instrumentalist Carina Round (Tears For Fears and Early Winters), guitarist and keyboardist Mat Mitchell (Nine Inch Nails, Halsey, and Katy Perry), drummer Gunnar Olsen (Bruce Springsteen, Michael Franti, and Camila Cabello), and bass player Josh Moreau (Miley Cyrus, AWOLNATION, and Adam Lambert).

The lights dimmed and a video of Agent Dick Merkin (Keenan) addressed the audience. With a wicked smile, he announced anyone taking pictures during the show will be immediately removed and turned into a meat like canned product. In fear of becoming gelatinized, I put my camera away.

Mission Ballroom Audience

As soon as the music started, the people behind us asked everyone to stand up. We all started dancing to the atmospheric music (I just kind of swayed. Don’t judge me). Keenan appearing as Agent Dick Merkin and the band came out dressed like they were from the Men in Black movie in dark suits and sunglasses. Other agents appeared on stage trying to apprehend aliens throughout the show. This peculiar narrative gave the musicians an excellent reason to dance with the extraterrestrials that randomly materialized.

Josh Moreau, Mat Mitchell, and an alien

Many of the songs performed were from the 2020 Existential Reckoning album. The live versions were more intense possibly due to the dancing aliens. Keenan’s and Round’s voices blended nicely while they were pursuing creatures from outer space.

The intermission gave the audience time to contemplate what they just witnessed and buy more t-shirts. When it ended, another video appeared with Agent Dick Merkin. He outlined a complicated alien clone theory involving celebrities. The speculation suggested Keenan was the late Plasmatics singer Wendy O. Williams.

When the band returned, Keenan appeared in a blonde mullet as the character Billy Dee. Before performing a song about sexual female empowerment entitled Vagina Mine, Round demanded the audience’s attention. She took off her secret agent suit jacket to reveal a t-shirt with a uterus flipping the bird (an obvious statement regarding recent events). That’s when Keenan had the crowd chant, “Vagina.”

Pucifer – Bedlamite

For the final songs, the audience was allowed to take pictures (as you can see). The show ended with an optimistic song for dark times called Bedlamite – “Raise your bottle/Of God full throttle/The Liquid Jesus/Spiritus Sancti/Write your own fable/Believe it’ll all work out/”It’s gonna be alright/Everything will be alright.”

Moody Black

Sometimes it’s better not to know anything about a band before you see them. That’s what happened when I saw the supporting band Moodie Black. A screen projected black and white images while guitarist Sean Lindahl and drummer Bentley Monet played along to a hip-hop vocal. After the first song, Kristen Martinez emerged in front of the screen to revel the person behind the voice (I thought it was a recorded track). She towered over the audience in her high heels commanding everyone’s attention. Her long hair constantly moved along with her head banging casted a dramatic shadow against the screen. The crowd was mesmerized with the combination of the music, visuals, and Martinez’s passionate intense energy. 

See you at the next show. I’ll be the one dancing with aliens. 

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