Puscifer abducts Pittsburgh into alternate dimension

If you need a little help finding yourself, as well as a better understanding of the world and the things in it, well, Puscifer might be able to help you out with that… although you might find yourself even more lost than before. Fair warning. After a six-year hiatus, Maynard James Keenan’s project Puscifer brought their headlining tour to Pittsburgh, supporting their last release of Existential Reckoning — a long wait for fans since its release in October of 2020. Alongside Keenan’s “Core Agents” were performing characters, investigating the album’s “alien abduction” theme. The immersive real-life Men in Black vibe gave the audience a true run for their money with this experience. With their strict no phone policy set in place (and heavily enforced), you were truly left with an incredible show put on before you without distraction and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Puscifer had one opening act that was specifically picked by Keenan himself, Moodie Black — pretty much the icing on the cake of an awesome evening. 

Hailing from Minneapolis, Moodie Black gave us an introduction to the tone of the entire evening. Sean Lindahl (guitar) and Bentley Money (drums) took their places on the stage respectively under a giant projection screen before erupting into their opening song. Immediately, I was so impressed with the cloud of energy that poured into the crowd, who were obviously pretty darn impressed, too. And, this was all before the fashionably late entrance of Kdeath (a.k.a. Kristen Martinez). The driving force behind Martinez’s fiery vocals was enough to make The Cure’s Robert Smith proud as heck. Coming from a place of turmoil, she uses this raw emotion combined with what I can only describe as raw instrumentals to match. Distorted synths, guitars and brooding drums played as a showcase to create a style some refer to as “alt rap” or “emo rap”. That said, Moodie Black is known for constantly bending genres as we know it and creating one all their own. Just as the crowd was fully engaged, their set ended and the crowd grew tense for the arrival of Puscifer. 

As the lights dimmed for the headlining act, a large TV screen appeared in the back of the stage, giving the audience an intro to the show and to remind them of the no phone policy. First to enter the stage was Gunnar Olsen (drums) and Josh Moreau (bass), before Mat Mitchell (guitar, bass, keyboards) and Carina Round (vocals) appeared, both dressed as aforementioned MIB agent characters. The latter two entered gracefully and skillfully (as they are secret agents) before taking their positions. Finally, brainchild and frontman Maynard James Keenan (also brought to fame by Tool and A Perfect Circle) took his centerstage position with serious business in mind — to take us into a different reality. We were in full transport until another character from the band posed as a camera rule-breaking fan and is carried away by the “Core Agents”, which was only the beginning of what can only be described as the best live musical with an alien versus agent, Men In Black live-action take. What was the epic conclusion to a night in heaven, you may ask? None other than a lightsaber fight between Keenan and the aliens! Honestly, this may have been the most epic show I’ve seen… definitely not one to miss!

Photography by Franny Kovacs

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