Live: Puscifer at the Keller Auditorium

Words and photos by Yousef Hatlani


Maynard James Keenan with Puscifer // Photo by Yousef Hatlani

Maynard James Keenan with Puscifer // Photo by Yousef Hatlani

“It’s tough having heroes,” Lester Bangs wrote in 1976, reviewing David Bowie’s cocaine-fueled disco landmark Station to Station. “Hero-worshippers (fans) must live with the continually confirmed dread of hero-slippage and humiliating personal compromises in your standards and plain good sense about, oh, two to three weeks after the new elpee masterwork first hits our turntables.”

Maynard James Keenan—by then known only by his first name, James—had just graduated from high school the year Bangs died at age 33. If only the legendary rock critic had lived long enough to see Keenan’s often fanatical fan base, he may have been faced with something of an exception to that truism:  between Tool, A Perfect Circle and Puscifer, Keenan has fashioned a catalog reliable in both quality and curiosity. It has also bred legions upon legions of fans, ranging from the analytical to the absurd—time and again acknowledged by Keenan himself as, sometimes, just a bit too much.

This dedication can and has (maybe unjustifiably) driven some people away from the realm of all things MJK; at three separate shows I attended in Portland since January 2014—with one of them just last week, the bass player soundchecked by noodling on Tool’s ‘Schism’ before descending into laughter and quickly moving on.

It seems fitting, then, that Puscifer can be seen as a reaction of sorts to the deification that led to this; an outlet for all things bizarre and ludicrous, as well as sincere and straightforward—all from the autonomous efforts of Keenan and his revolving band of contributors. On Saturday night, Portland had its taste of that imagination in full-blown technicolor, with the group stopping by the Keller Auditorium to support its third LP, Money Shot, released just last month.

'Luchafer' // Photo by Yousef Hatlani

‘Luchafer’ // Photo by Yousef Hatlani

The evening began with a lucha libre wrestling match. Yes, you read that correctly: there was a ring, there were masked wrestlers, there were bleachers onstage for VIP ticketholders and there was pre-recorded commentary. Although it might seem like a strange way to open a rock show, it was anything but; lucha libre masks are featured on the Money Shot album cover. They were also on backdrops throughout the show and were even worn by band members—including Keenan, who never took his off.

Following twenty minutes of pretty remarkable athletics and a quick set changeover (including a videotaped PSA from Keenan as his alter ego, Major Douche, reminding people to please, please not use their phones,) the band launched into the Money Shot cut “Simultaneous,” featuring dual lead vocals by Maynard and key contributor Carina Round—whom it would be fair to say was in as much command of the show as Keenan; they both had the same amount of space on stage, the same movements and even the same outfit.

Puscifer // Photo by Yousef Hatlani

Puscifer // Photo by Yousef Hatlani

The set leaned heavily on material from the new album—which is usually a problem for bands, but never so much in Keenan’s case, considering  the audience already seemed to know every syllable of every chorus. The night was nevertheless peppered with choice cuts from Puscifer’s discography, including “Rev 22:20” and “Vagina Mine” from 2007’s V is for Vagina, as well as a placid “Horizons” and an exclamatory “Man Overboard” from 2011’s Conditions of my Parole. They also shifted from the mostly downtempo, steady mood of their songs to aggressive and explosive cuts, bringing out harder-hitting numbers like “The Undertaker” and “Toma,” also respectively from those albums.

Keenan was obviously enjoying himself throughout the show, jovial is spirits nary seen at Tool or A Perfect Circle concerts. The band, too, seemed to be having fun—completed by vocalist Round, guitarist/songwriter Mat Mitchell, drummer Jeff Friedl (who was, no kidding, dressed like the gimp on the cover of Death Grips’ The Money Store,) keyboardist Mahsa Zargaran and Ministry’s own Paul Barker on bass.

Mat Mitchell (left) and Ministry's Paul Barker // Photo by Yousef Hatlani

Mat Mitchell (left) and Ministry’s Paul Barker // Photo by Yousef Hatlani

In all, Puscifer’s music places more emphasis on electronics and texture than the time-signature shifting prog rock of Tool and the alt rock experiments of A Perfect Circle. In this sense, their music is also more uniform: the songs stand out less from each other than those of the aforementioned groups. This is not really a drawback, though; Puscifer’s live show is a holistic tease of one’s light and dark sides, the screwball backdrops and masks contrasting greatly with the moody grooves and beautiful vocal harmonies of Keenan and Round.

Puscifer drummer Jeff Friedl // Photo by Yousef Hatlani

Puscifer drummer Jeff Friedl // Photo by Yousef Hatlani

Perhaps it is this, then, that keeps drawing fans into the creative legacy of Maynard James Keenan: despite honing an aesthetic he set out with twenty-five years ago, every Tool, A Perfect Circle and Puscifer tour has been a marked visual departure from the last. And whether or not you land in the ‘hero-worshippers’ category Lester Bangs wrote about in 1976, it is evident that Maynard’s output has cultivated a notion of integrity and detail absent from many groups on the same barometer. Nearly forty years after Station to Station, it would have been interesting to see what Bangs would make of it all.

LIVE: Primal Scream, The Cult at Crystal Ballroom / The Good Life at Doug Fir Lounge

By Hollister Dixon // Primal Scream and The Cult photos by Yousef Hatlani

Following the move to cease production of the podcasting arm of Faces on the Radio, I found myself just not going out to shows as much anymore. This is mostly a consequence of paying much less attention to the calendar, a part of my programming that vanished surprisingly fast. At least a couple nights a week, I would find myself looking at my Facebook notifications, and saying, “SHIT! That’s tonight!” about one show or another. To get back into the swing of things, I decided the best way was to throw myself into the deep end and double-book myself: I would see Scottish deities Primal Scream (inexplicably supporting England’s The Cult, rather than the other way around – but that’s neither here nor there) at the Crystal Ballroom, before crossing the Burnside to the Doug Fir where Tim Kasher’s Cursive offshoot The Good Life were making a triumphant return. In the process, I learned and realized a few things.

Primal Scream, The Cult – Crystal Ballroom


Primal Scream // Photo By Yousef Hatlani

This is an obvious statement, but if you’re the singer in a band that plays a lot of quasi-instrumental music, you’re going to have to do a lot more to exercise the “stage presence” muscle. Stage presence is as much of a muscle as anything in performing, and if you’re in a band like Primal Scream, and you’re someone like Bobby Gillespie, you’re going to have to figure out what to do with your time while the rest of the band is going nuts. Primal Scream are a few year’s past their 30th anniversary as a band at this point, long enough that you’d be able to forgive Gillespie for not bothering to move around as much as he does. At this point, though, he’s got enough energy to make Mick Jagger watch his back: during longer, more instrumentally-driven songs, he bounds across the stage, posing at the edge for fans, preening like an unsung sex icon with his mic stand (note: Bobby Gillespie truly is an unsung sex icon). Joyfully, the rest of the band matched his energy step for step and turn for turn, putting on one of the single best Crystal Ballroom performances I’ve seen since the triumphant and transformative performance by fellow Creation Records stars Slowdive.

Partway through the band’s hour-long performance, Gillespie dropped a minor bomb nobody could quite believe: this was, in fact, the very first Primal Scream show in Portland. This was a source of joy, but also one of annoyance bordering on anger for the people I was with: despite the caliber of the talent onstage this evening, the Crystal Ballroom was – and I’m being generous here – roughly half full by the time the band had finished. It seemed that the band failed to notice this (or noticed and simply didn’t actually care), however, as they sailed on with enough passion and fire that I genuinely felt bad for the evening’s headliner. To be honest, I’m still a little confused as to why this bill wasn’t flipped – I feel like advertising a “first time in Portland!” performance by Primal Scream would have sold out the Ballroom months before the show actually went on.. but, again, that’s a minor trifle. I say this without a drop of hyperbole, but I feel blessed to have gotten the chance to see this band play, even if they only played for an hour.

The Cult // Photo By Yousef Hatlani

The Cult // Photo By Yousef Hatlani

The unfortunate part of my double-booking is that this was a very good opportunity for me to finally get what people enjoyed about The Cult. During a conversation with friend/former guest Shelley Bowers, I tried to figure out what I was missing about The Cult, and in the process realized that I was simply just a little too young to really, truly get the band. Having said that, the songs I did see The Cult perform were fantastic. Just like the aforementioned Bobby Gillespie, Cult frontman Ian Astbury knows how to get a crowd eating out of the palm of his hand, and just like Primal Scream, he’s used the last 30 years to really figure out how to be a terrific performer. Had I stuck out the performance, I feel as though I could have found myself converted. Next time!


The Good Life // Instagram Photo by Hollister Dixon

Unfortunately for Astbury, I have an unofficial standing order to see Tim Kasher perform whenever I get the opportunity. After a brisk trek across the Willamette, I got to see The Good Life‘s return from hibernation. It has been a jaw-dropping eight years since The Good Life released Help Wanted Nights, and their return with this year’s Everybody’s Coming Down came with a surprisingly nonexistent amount of fanfare. It could simply be because of Kasher’s status as an indie rock lifer – it isn’t as though he himself has been inactive, having released four records since Help Wanted Nights (two with Cursive, two under his own name) – but it was clear by the joy in the crowd that everyone in the room was overjoyed to be able to belt out those songs.

Kasher is at his best when he sings about emotional turmoil (“I’m at my best when I’m at my worst”, he aptly sang on “From the Hips“) and despite his kind and affable stage presence, The Good Life is just a less angular (and sometimes more angsty) version of Cursive. That’s not a knock at all; The Good Life have the benefit of being a more dynamic band, where Kasher is bolstered not only by the standout bass work of Stefanie Drootin (who also performed a stunning and tear-enducing rendition of Album of the Year cut “Inmates”), but by the workmanlike drumming of Roger Lewis, who was damn near impossible to look away from at times. It may simply be the result of working with Kasher (Cursive is, as it happens, a devastating live act), but band maintained a state of constant tightness throughout their hour onstage, even during an Everybody’s Coming Down cut that was prefaced with “Here’s a short one that we’re going to try really hard to not mess up!” and during the band’s more chaotic and expansive tracks (namely the title track from Album of the Year, a song which goes in approximately 20 directions during its five-minute span). Despite the somewhat short set (short by some metrics, I mean), seeing The Good Life perform was a wonderful reminder of why, exactly, I have that standing order to see Tim Kasher perform every chance I get: he’s one of indie rock’s best frontmen, no matter what band he’s playing with.

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Today marks three years since the first episode of Faces on the Radio went live from the Internet. Like all good things do, we must now come to an end as a podcast.

For the time being, our intent is to continue to cover shows via photography and written reviews on this website. The three of us will still be around, catching shows, photographing bands, going crazy in the front row, talking with people about music, and doing everything you’ve come to expect from the FOTR team – even if you won’t hear about it the following Monday.

We are beyond grateful to every guest, contributor, listener, apartment story participant and each other for the time we all shared together. It’s been a pleasure, a privilege and an honor.

We hope you were taking notes. Have a great one.

FOTR Collage Final Text copy

LIVE: Royal Headache, Chop Suey, Seattle, WA


By Gabriel Mathews

I hope I can be forgiven for expecting something a little more frightening from VHS’s opening set at Chop Suey on Monday. Their name does, after all, stand for “Violent Human System,” a name which like, say, High-Functioning Flesh or Criminal Code or Stoic Violence implies some sort of disturbed intensity and perverse anger that was not present on stage with the sleeveless RUN-DMC tees in VHS. Their frontman, who actually drums for Criminal Code and whose name I’m having a damn hard time tracking down, wears his bleach-blond bowl cut in direct homage to Greg Sage, a comparison that has clearly been made many a time. That said, if there’s any great PNW band that hasn’t been ripped off enough, it’s Wipers, and VHS actually do a pretty good job of it, though they need two guitars to pull of what Sage did with one. Bowl-cut’s singing voice is a nasal bellow in Sage’s direct lineage, and his melodic sensibility produces a pretty straight Is This Real? vibe very easily. That said, I don’t want to pigeonhole VHS too hard—they show promise for growth and are clearly skilled musicians, and as I said, more Wipers-apes wouldn’t be a bad thing at all.

I’m not sure I can give such credit to Dude York. These guys apparently formed at Whitman College, where if I had to guess they bonded over a shared love of mid-period Weezer and cheap irony. They’re not bad at what they do, and I especially enjoyed when bassist Claire England took over vocals from the unbelievably boyish Peter Richards, whose onstage persona is drenched in the all-too-common-in-Seattle-punk white-boy happy-go-lucky nihilism to the point of alienation at the expense of the music. His heckling of the sparse crowd—“Who’s having a good time?!” “Wow, you guys are all so great!” “Nice physical action! We endorse physicality of all kinds!”—felt so disingenuous and patronizing that I had a bit of trouble staying in the room. Dude York’s songs are tight, their power chords are powerful, and drummer Andrew Hall has some neat tricks up his sleeves. But why should I take a band seriously when it’s clear they have no intention of taking themselves seriously? (All this aside, points for writing a song called “No One In My Life Can Hear Me Scream.”)

Australia’s Royal Headache had just crossed the pond before playing this, the first show of their tour, as frontman Shogun was quick to point out. “I am so fucking jet-lagged,” he said before they even started, and he never really stopped complaining. Tearing out of the gate with “Really In Love,” a highlight from their self-titled debut and then rushing through a few new ones, Shogun and company (Law on guitar, Joe on bass, and Shorty on drums) were a blast for the first ten minutes of their set. Shogun has one of the best voices in punk rock, one which garners him frequent comparisons to such soul greats as Sam Cooke, and which really sets the band apart from other garage-rock clacissists. But he really comes across more as a Robert Pollard imitator on stage, both vocally and physically, with high-kicks and arm-flails abounding. A few songs in, though, it was clear that fatigue was setting in, as he sat down on the cinder-block Shorty used to keep his kick drum in place. Eventually, at Shogun’s request, a stool was brought out for him, and between every song he’d make some comment about how he was too old for this, wanted to do a slow one next, or how he needed a personal trainer.

The set was still a lot of fun—songs like “Down The Lane,” “Psychotic Episode” and the incredible “Girls” still ripped, as did tracks from their forthcoming second album, High, particularly bangers like “Garbage” and the title track. The uniform brown hair/white tee of the band offset the emaciated, shirtless, red-headed Shogun in a nice way that didn’t seem premeditated and added a bit of spectacle even when he was sitting down. But it’s hard for me to swallow a guy saying “This is a song about fake punks” (“Another World”) from a stool. Here’s to hoping Shogun gets his energy back before squandering what ought to be a killer tour.

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Episode 143: MusicFest Northwest 2015!


Thanks to Matthew MacLean and Matt Manza for joining us this week! You can listen above, and download the episode right here.


  • Matthew MacLean and Matt Manza discuss this year’s edition of MusicFest Northwest, including the booking process, the changes made this year, and what the fest’s future looks like.


  • Dr. Dre – “Talking to My Diary”
  • Lady Lamb – “Billions of Eyes”
  • Talk in Tongues – “She Lives in My House”
  • Deerhunter – “Snakeskin”

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Polyphonic Spree Celebrate 15th Anniversary With Beginning Stages Of… Tour



Back at the very beginning of the last decade, The Polyphonic Spree, Tim DeLaughter’s charming (and vaguely but endearingly cult-like) Texas-based choir-rock monolith, released their debut record, The Beginning Stages Of…. If you heard the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind soundtrack, or watched Scrubs, or saw a Volkswagen ad, you were undoubtedly aware of their infectious, ELO-esque single “Light & Day”, which helped to launch the band into the hearts and iPods of just about everybody who heard it. In the years since, they’ve put out a handful of equally poppy (though admittedly less psychedelic) records, the most recent of which being 2013’s Yes, It’s True.

Now, just in time for the band’s 15th anniversary, the band are embarking on a neat little tour: Every night, they’ll play through The Beginning Stages Of… in its entirety, plus a bunch of other “deep cuts and choice covers”, in the band’s words. You can expect this one to be a gloriously upbeat evening, and it’ll be worth the price of admission just to see how they handle the album’s slow-burning finale, “A Long Day”

You can check out the upcoming tour dates after the jump, and watch them covering Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” for The AV Club. For tickets to see the band’s Star Theater performance, head on over here!

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Episode 142: Good Cheer


Thanks to Blake Hickman and Mo Troper of Good Cheer Records for joining us this week! You can check it out above, or download it here.


  • Blake Hickman and Mo Troper of Good Cheer Records join us to talk about the challenges of starting a label, the foolishness of small pressings of vinyl, and the future of their label.


  • EL VY – “Return to the Moon (Political Song for Didi Bloome to Sing, with Crescendo)”
  • Sabonis – “More Time”
  • Royal Headache – “High”
  • Stone Temple Pilots – “Interstate Love Song”

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Episode 141: Major Label Debut


Thanks to Veronica Medici for joining us this week! You can listen above, and download this one right here.


  • Major labels
  • How did Veronica begin working with a major label?
  • How do majors compare to indie labels, in regards to artist communication and inner workings?
  • What is the role of a big label in the modern day?
  • How does streaming tie into the business of major label operations?
  • What direction is the music industry going in, and how can it be saved?


  • Rowdy Roddy Piper’s theme
  • Disclosure – “Latch (Ft. Sam Smith)”
  • Wilco – “Either Way”
  • Jason Isbell – “If It Takes a Lifetime”

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Episode 140: The Best of 2015 (So Far)


Thanks to Jordan Portlock for joining us this week! You can listen above, and download this one right here.


  • The best of the first half of 2015! We talk about our favorite records, favorite shows, biggest surprises – and disappointments.


  • Sleater-Kinney – “Price Tag”
  • Sorority Noise – “Corrigan”
  • Kendrick Lamar – “Mortal Man”
  • Beat Connection – “So Good”


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Episode 139: I Know It’s Over

Katie 161

Thanks to Katy Hampton for joining us this week! You can check it out above, or download it here!


  • The Smiths and Morrissey!
  • We discuss our love and passion for The Smiths and Morrissey, the things that make both feel unique, our relationships with Morrissey (the person), and – as always – talk about how they’re never reuniting.


  • Wilco – “EKG”
  • The Smiths – “Rusholme Ruffians”
  • Morrissey – “Sing Your Life (KROQ Version”
  • Stiff Little Fingers – “Suspect Device”


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