Carina Round gives you full-body chills with her compelling performance, alongside living rock legend Maynard James Keenan at Philadelphia’s The Met.
By Sophia Varoumas
“Phil’s Friends” receive the satirical and theatrical probing performance they anticipated. Maynard James Keenan (vocals) and Carina Round (vocals/guitar/percussion/keys), of Puscifer, performed in divine masculine/feminine post-punk harmony at The Met.
Alongside bandmates, Mat Mitchell (guitar), Gunner Olsen (drums), and Josh Moreau (bass/synths) on this year’s, Existential Reckoning tour, like the hierophant compliment the Empress, Carina Round, and Maynard James Keenan, showcase their voices in the Opera house, achingly beautiful and synthesized with a dusting of retro electronica.
The alternative rap trio, Moodie Black, opens the evening with a dark stage, bright white screen, and the band scattered across the stage, an industrial backdrop eerily hanging behind them, reminiscent of an old Nine Inch Nails video. Moodie Black features the lead singer, Kristen Martinez (she/her), guitarist Sean Lindahl (he/him), and drummer Bentley Monet (he/him).
Moodie Black rage on stage as Martinez’s silhouette haunts, as she towers, and paces in front of the band’s backdrop. She has an enormous voice that demands attention. The band calls it noise rap. It sounds super thrashy and industrial combined with the super-fast spoken word. You may find yourself rocking your head to their set.
Suddenly, the energy shifts dramatically when the TV screens on each side of the stage light up with static, and Maynard James Keenan (MJK), a.k.a. agent Dick Merkin, pops up on the screens with a message about “spam.” He reminds the crowd that, “ignorant entitled outrage,” adds just enough spice to the cynical mix of processed meat, so if you pull out your phone, it will land you in Puscifer’s meat grinders, and dispose of you. The crowd roars at the announcement and then the band walks across that stage.
You see and feel this synergy on stage when Keenan and Round, the alto and soprano dance around each other in an alienesque fashion opening with the tracks, “Bread and Circus,” “Postulous,” and then the crowd-pleasing, “Fake Affront,” giving the audience Max Headroom meets Reservoir Dogs feels with their rude boy, all-black suits, white button-down shirts, and black tie attire.
Dozens of fans dress up like MJK’s personas and some, like MJK, don’t break character. Appearances by personas, Agent Dick Merkin, the agent in training on the Pusciforce, is the audience’s host for the evening probe. ‘Agents’ appear on stage scanning the audience for potential new subjects. It was quirky and entertaining adding an extra element to the night’s show.
Prior to the band’s quick seven-minute intermission and wardrobe change, the six-piece performed the songs “Humbling River,” “Apocalypticical,” “Remedy,” and “Singularity.”
Billy D, MJK’s other Puscifer persona emerges, a glass of alcohol in hand, prepared to raise a glass and run from the aliens on stage trying to probe him.
Puscifer continues in their ever so subtle way to say, “shut the fuck up” with a world in its current state of affairs, masking some rage with video “spam” entertaining the crowd to add a sense of sarcastic comic relief, but still showcasing how social media is evil, and how they may feel about society’s current events that are unfolding.
The most monumental and compelling moment of the evening was by Carina Round in her performance of “Flippant.”
Round singularly dances standing still and waving her arms pointing up, then circling her belly and up again. Suddenly she circles her belly again, points up, then points back down at her other hand circling back at her belly, and silently screams, MINE! Before the stage goes black, they end the night with, “Bedlamite” and tell Puscifer fans that they can break out their phones to take some pictures if they choose.
Want to relive the show? Philly’s Setlist below:
Bread and Circus
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