A Perfect Circle/Red Bacteria Vacuum @ Beacon Theater 7.15.11

Photo by Keeyahtay Lewis

As per Snail's request not to pull a Lightning Bolt--going to a show without her and not write about -- Here's my account of APC at Beacon Theater.

From the great "old man" seats granted by my brother Felix's persistence months ago, first row of a section above the floor -- an instant upgrade from looking down below to the tiny stage people from the high in the balcony as with Massive Attack last year -- he and I experienced our third show together in great comfort.

Besides the fact they were Japanese openers Red Bacteria Vacuum were a mystery before our ears beheld their noise. While Felix remained skeptical, it was all good for me for I've never seen a Japanese opening act I didn't like (see: Melt Banana, Ogre You Asshole!). This trend continued this night as the all-girl punk band from Tokyo hit the stage with an adorable cheerleader formation to industrial beats that led into a varied set of songs, some speedy and headbang-inspiring numbers akin to a chorus of rabid cats fighting and some the likes of a super-kawaii anime theme.

The ladies were cheery, super grateful and in between songs repeated "We are Red Vacuum Bacteria, we are from Tokyo, Japan!" joked around ("pleased to eat you!")  and politely asked everyone to stand for the performance, all in their best English. Many people did, but I didn't because I am coward but glad everyone else did.

Equally as captivating as they were, was drummer Jasmine's canary yellow drumkit. Each drum was like a tube, built to shoot sound directly into your face. Felix loved the drumset, liked the music but wished he understood what they were saying. Language never a barrier for this Cheep, I was all kinds of giddy about them. Super sweet Japanese ladies who can rock hard win all the time, without question.

Promptly at 9 p.m., A Perfect Circle took their places on the stage to the roar of the crowd. The scene set was a desert army base, cargo, a sign that said "MINES DANGER" on the floor and a shade tarp with their logo draped on the wall behind them. Guitarist Billy Howerdel sat at toy piano at the front of the stage for opening cover, Crucifix's "Annihilation." Singer Maynard James Keenan in a trooper's costume, in his anti-frontman fashion, stood in the back right corner of the stage on a giant crate. Both of them clad in combat boots and tight pants, umph! James Iha, platinum blonde and unaging,  handled guitar and keys from his own pedestal next to Keenan. My brain missed Joshua Freese who is off drumming elsewhere and ex-bassist Paz Lenchantin who I secretly hope will rejoin the band one day but the guys handling the rhythm section brought it well enough.

Not exactly a fan of their (mostly) covers album eMotive, the idea that eight songs on the set were covers was disappointing. As the band played on, however, I developed an appreciation for the way they completely transformed the tracks into A Perfect Circle's dark, sensual and at times whimsical signature sound.

Depeche Mode's "People Are People," a favorite of mine, was beautiful but unrecognizable until I realized what Billy was cooing. The best cover of the night was Black Flag's "Gimme Gimme Gimme" this live version far superior to the studio recording. The original songs from the disc, "Passive" and "Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums," were also performed. The first is major goosebump business live while I could've done without the later, it just mad me annoyed they didn't just play "Pet" instead of that loud droney crap.

I savored the moments during the show where the original tracks from the Mer de Noms and Thirteenth Step were played like a one-in-a-blue-moon cherry-flavored hard candy. Everything I knew and loved about the band was on point and Beacon Theater's amazing sound amplified it well especially the loudness of the sexy, guitar noise whirring swells. As usual vocals could've Maynard and Billy Howerdel's velveteen le sigh-worthy vocals you just want to swim in.

A wisecrack from Maynard initiated the tail end the show, joking it was time to "clip some coupons and save time" and pretend they left the stage for a while and came back out for the encore, where they played three more songs, ending with the impressive new song, "By and Down."  If this song is at all indicative of upcoming album's quality, it's going to be a definite ear pleaser.

Taking into account that they're a band who does what they do very well and we can't always get what we want, it was pretty awesome for what it was.

Listen to "By and Down" here


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