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  • Feature: Puscifer, A Perfect Circle, and Failure Celebrate "Cinquanta"

    Sun, 11 May 2014 08:53:29

    Feature: Puscifer, A Perfect Circle, and Failure Celebrate "Cinquanta" - By ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino...

    Maynard James Keenan Photos

    • Maynard James Keenan - INDIO, CA - APRIL 13:  Maynard James Keenan of Puscifer performs onstage during day 2 of the 2013 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival at The Empire Polo Club on April 13, 2013 in Indio, California.

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    A Perfect Circle Videos

    • A Perfect Circle - By And Down (Live At Red Rocks)
    • A Perfect Circle - Passive

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    Los Angeles is unlike anywhere else in the world. Five minutes from the congested, touristy streets of Hollywood and nestled comfortably in the hills of Los Feliz, the Greek Theatre played host to a (twice)-in-a-lifetime extravaganza last night. Cinquanta saw Puscifer, A Perfect Circle, and Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan celebrate his fiftieth birthday in style, and it was one hell of a bash. Since you only turn fifty once, the stage differed from anything that his bands have utilized to date. In fact, it was literally like a backyard barbecue complete with a grill spouting fake flames, lawn chairs, and tables with lots of spirits. However, not only did the setup stand out, but the actual run-of-show gave the audience a memory just as special as a birthday. In other words, it's definitely the best party Los Angeles has seen in a long time.

    Failure ignited the softly spacey chords of "The Nurse Who Loved Me" as Keenan joined them to trade vocals with Ken Andrews. On stage with an avowed favorite of his, Keenan beamed as he crooned out the dreamy refrain flawlessly. Clad in a dapper blue suit, black t-shirt, and shades, he took a seat and watched Failure tear through a chugging "Saturday Savior" into the ethereal expanse of "Dirty Blue Balloons". Andrews elegantly riffed and sang, proving why he was an influence on a generation in the process as Kelli Scott's drums thundered in the background. Then, everything switched up yet again.

    A Perfect Circle dazzled during a lithe and lush "Weak and Powerless" punctuated by Keenan's inimitable wail and fortified by Billy Howerdel's immortal six-string symphony. "Orestes" eloquently wrapped poetically chilling lyrics within in an undeniably entrancing soundscape. The soft chords and the singer's voice bled into the night sky as the words "Keeping me from killing you" resounded back. Howerdel's own brilliance especially shined during "The Noose" as his fingers slid across the fretboard in tandem with Jeff Friedl's tempered percussive grooves, James Iha's impeccable phrasing, and Matt McJunkins' focused bass thud and slinky harmonies.

    The stage switched yet again, but Keenan assumed the mic alongside Carina Round. Puscifer weaved together the trip-hop rock potency of "Vagina Mine" and "Trekka" with the divine "Breathe" masterfully. Keenan and Round volleyed back in forth in perfect union as each musical moment during Puscifer's set seduced in some way. "Polar Bear" could've either served as the soundtrack to a femme fatale's arrival in a film noir or a shootout in your favorite western. That's the genius of Puscifer though. The cinematic-multimedia collective manages to play beyond tightly as videos enthrall behind them.

    Everybody exited for a brief intermission, and then the real fun began. More memories became made in the time following. Howeredel joined Keenan during a touching rendition of Puscifer's "Monsoons", the most powerful moment of 2011's Conditions of My Parole. Meanwhile, Keenan added his own panache to "Solaris" with Failure. After A Perfect Circle reached art rock nirvana on "The Hollow" and "Rose", Round appeared next to Maynard for a sexy take on "The Package". A Perfect Circle's tripped-out "Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drum" segued into an elegiac yet gorgeously "3 Libras" as "By and Down" captivated.

    The last Puscifer set reached historic status. Tool drummer Danny Carey pounded out a countrified beat during "Cuntry Boner", which Keenan prefaced saying, "They call this a lyric sheet because I'm fifty, fuck you!"

    Green Jellÿ and some "friends" invaded the stage for a whacky and wondrous "Three Little Pigs". The most unexpected moment came when Tool bassist Justin Chancellor assumed the position with his instrument, clunking out the instantly recognizable intro to "Sober" and Keenan gave an utterly transcendent performance of the band's breakout 1994 hit.

    Ultimately, it's nights like this that make Los Angeles unlike any other place in the world. Keenan's birthday included a powerful snapshot of his catalog and the sold out crowd served as a constant reminder of just how impactful and influential he's been. It's because he follows his own path and does everything on his own terms. With another fifty years of that attitude, he might just change the world even more…

    Rick Florino

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    Tags: A Perfect Circle, Puscifer, Failure, Maynard James Keenan, Tool, Carina Round, Danny Carey, Billy Howerdel

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