Review: Puscifer at Vector Arena

Alt-rockers Puscifer played Auckland's Vector Arena in their first ever New Zealand show on Sunday. Photo: Fourtheye.net

When a musical act opens with a wrestling match you are in for a different kind of show.

Different doesn’t really begin to describe the mix of theatre and varied musical stylings that were on display when American alternative act Puscifer assaulted Auckland’s Vector Arena with their first ever New Zealand show on Sunday night.

Puscifer is the brainchild of Maynard James Keenan, who is no stranger to New Zealand’s shores having toured here many times with Kiwi favourites Tool.

While most people crammed into the Vector Arena were curious Tool fans that had come to see Keenan’s latest offering based on his previous reputation alone. Puscifer has been the more prolific of his bands over the last few years, releasing three albums and three EPs in the time since Tool’s last record.

Known for their impressive visual displays, Puscifer didn’t disappoint with large screens framing a full wrestling ring that was set up centre stage.

Mexican wrestlers Luchafer opened the show making full use of the ring in an acrobatic display based loosely on a prison break storyline which saw a tag team match between male and female wrestlers while pre-recorded Puscifer music played over the top.

The highlight of this performance was the small gimp-like wine waiter who interrupted the match serving alcoholic refreshments to the combatants before ripping off his waiter’s apron revealing a black Spiderman outfit underneath. He then proceeded to kick everyone in range’s ass, getting one of the biggest cheers of the night.

Mexican wrestlers Luchafer warming up the crowd. Photo: Fourtheye.net

After a quick comedy sketch by Maynard dressed in military uniform warning the crowd not to record the show came up on screen, Puscifer took to the stage, immediately launching into hypnotic track Simultaneous.

What followed was a visual and aural overload divided into four acts that featured more wrestling by Luchafer, a robot cockfight, and mind-bending videos.

Although Vector Arena was in full theatre mode with the crowd fully seated, during the third song, Agostina, Maynard revealed he had a full hip replacement two years ago and was still standing, so the crowd should too. This sent the seating plan out the window as hard-core fans rushed to the barrier at the front, adding even more energy to the unpredictable show.

Dual vocalists Carina Young and Maynard swapped seamlessly from performing front of the stage to singing within Luchafer’s wrestling ring, which remained an integral part of the act throughout the show.

One of the more interesting stage setups you will see. Photo: Fourtheye.net

After nearly two hours of madness, the band announced an encore without leaving the stage, as Maynard announced: “We could leave, then you could clap for a few minutes, but let’s face it, you know we are coming back, so yeah, enjoy the encore.”

The final three songs were dedicated to vampire politicians, the women’s marches against Donald Trump and all the musicians we lost last year.

Judging by the excited chatter by punters leaving the show everyone left buzzing after a high energy experience that introduced Kiwi music fans to a mindblowing mix of music, athleticism, comedy and art.

Alan Kenyon
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