On October 30, 2020, Puscifer performed their newest album, Existential Reckoning, in entirety from Arcosanti, Arizona. Existential Reckoning: Live At Arcosanti was produced by Dino Paredes and Danny Wimmer and directed by Adam Rothlein and Dino Paredes. Wimmer has a history with larger than life festivals like Aftershock, Sonic Temple, and Louder Than Life, and no punches were pulled with Live At Arcosanti.
The entire performance was beautifully staged, produced, and shot, showcasing a Puscifer concert in the best possible way. While there is no way to replace the act of attending a live show, Existential Reckoning: Live At Arcosanti gave viewers an experience from an assortment of viewpoints that would have been impossible to see sitting in a venue, watching from a seat.
The majority of Live At Arcosanti was performed utilizing a stage set up best described as a massive letter X when viewed from overhead. The Center of the X-stage had a small riser approximately 20 feet off the ground for Maynard James Keenan and Carina Round (co-vocalists) to stand atop and sing while facing each other. Guitarist/keyboardist Mat Mitchell, bassist/keyboardist Greg Edwards, and drummer Gunnar Olsen were all positioned on the ground below, essentially separated by each of the walls of this same X shaped stage, each of these walls adorned with lighting and video capabilities.
Live At Arcosanti was beautifully filmed utilizing multiple cameras, video screens, fog machines, and floodlighting. The entire performance sounded stunning, adding weight to all of the new material on the Existential Reckoning album. The band performed wearing in “Men In Black” attire; black suits, ties with requisite dark sunglasses.
The performance opened with “Bread and Circus,” showcasing the band in a traditional stage/audience format. The majority of “Bread and Circus” was presented using minimalist white back-lighting that cast each musician as outlined silhouettes. For “Apocalyptical,” the lighting opened up into a bluish pink palette with a semi-circular rear lighting effect that the band utilized on some of the event posters and t-shirts fans could buy to commemorate the event.
“Apocalyptical” also showcased Maynard James Keenan and Carina Round wearing waist-mounted microphone rigs that allowed them to dance and pose as they sang the song. Wearing these mic rigs permitted them to walk around the back of the half-circular stage while being followed by a camera as the song came to its conclusion. From “The Underwhelming” onwards, the group performed utilizing the main X-shaped stage backdrop, photographed from an assortment of camera angles.
“Theorem” utilized a mixture of black and white pre-shot video footage of band members in an old car driving through the desert. In contrast, the video footage presented on the group’s video screens featured large colourized versions of Maynard’s face singing the song’s lyrics. For “Bedlamite,” the set’s final song, the footage was shot as the sun rose on the Arizona desert. The sunrise showcased the Live At Arcosanti stage presentation’s magnitude while offering some lovely background scenery for the end of the show.
The Live At Arcosanti end credits rolled over Maynard James Keenan and Carina Round scat-vocalizing indoors on a small stage dressed to emulate a little comedy/karaoke club. They were both performing like they were last-call inebriated. Mat Mitchell, Greg Edwards, Gunnar Olsen, and some of the crew sat in the audience watching the two vocalists deliver a purposely poor credit song before both being carried out the EXIT door by their band-mates.
It’s unfair to describe Live At Arcosanti as a mere live stream. Puscifer pulled out all the stops for this performance, setting the bar high for what a pandemic-era live performance should look like.
Existential Reckoning: Live At Arcosanti Setlist:
1. Bread and Circus
3. The Underwhelming
4. Grey Area
7. Bullet Train to Iowa
8. Personal Prometheus
9. A Singularity
11. Fake Affront