For those who revere and miss the days before social-media feeds took over our ability to experience the present moment, we have good news. There is hope. Because last night in Miami Beach, there was a place where phones were a rare and unwelcome sight. More surprising still is that this haven was not a WiFi-less stretch of sandy beach but the Puscifer concert at the Fillmore Miami Beach instead.
In an environment where floating screens typically compete for attention with the band onstage, fans hoping for Instagram and Snapchat bragging rights were in for a rude awakening as ushers strictly enforced the no phone policy, issuing stern warnings to those who pulled out their phones and even forcing sneaky fans to delete pictures. The effect was a welcome, if all too exceptional, space where fans actually watched the band they paid to go see without distraction. The only lights of the night came from the stage.
And it would've been an easy night to become distracted too. It was, after all, Game 7 of what we now know to be the curse-shattering Cubs vs. Indians 2016 World Series — but other than one score update fetched from a roadie and relayed to the audience by Puscifer ringleader Maynard James Keenan, the attention was laser-focused on the happenings onstage which were, as best as we could tell, part rock concert, part lucha libre match.
Female and male luchadores decked out in colorful spandex stood at the foot of either side of the stage flipping each other off and taunting one another as Puscifer played through their set list made up mostly of songs from the band's latest and most politely named album, Money Shot.
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At the center of the stage, flanked by band members including former Ministry bassist Paul Barker and singer/guitarist Carina Round, was a small wrestling ring where luchadores battled in between acts, flying off the ropes as they hurled their bodies toward one another. Sure, the punching and kicking was about as fake as an actual wrestling match, but the mat rattled and popped as the athletes dodged each other's moves, and heavy thuds filled the theatre when their opponents flipped onto the mat.
On a few occasions, Round and Maynard hit the ring, not to wrestle but to perform. Red spotlights shone on all band members — except Maynard, who covered his face with a cross between a luchador and gimp mask and was cast in a shadow all night, save for the brief moment the house lights came up for a mock cock fight with plastic roosters. Maynard lost.
Round took to the ring with her banjitar to sing a saucy take on “Rev 22-20,” backed by space imagery featuring string-bound '60s-style flying saucers and an iconic visual reference to the 1902 silent film A Trip to the Moon. At other points, the silver-clad, Wonder Woman-style heroine in the video montage shot smoke rings out of her breasts.
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During “The Arsonist,” the luchadores took their fights outside of the ring and onto the edge of the stage as black and white WWII imagery was projected in flames on the screen.
At the end of the show, band members joined the luchadores on bleachers at opposite sides of the stage as Maynard, still in his mask, graciously introduced them and their multihyphenate roles in the project.
It was a touching moment that, at any other concert, might have been fractured and watched through tiny screens, then shared for cheap likes the next day. But Puscifer did a great job of not only making sure that the phone rules were enforced but of curating a spectacle worthy of our dwindling attention spans. Touring bands and the venues that host them should take note.