Tuesday, July 10, 2007


I like Tool but can't call myself a fan, the only song of their's I know by name is Sober. (Which I suspect they'd get lynched for still playing in concert, though they did play one off their first album.) That said, I really enjoyed this!

From our seats it looked something like:


Except when all the cigarette lighters came out and it looked like:


Yeah, we had bad seats. My friend Stacey is a huge Tool fan and was on the net waiting to pounce the moment tickets went on sale, but made the mistake of rejecting the first seats offered (floor, 'been there done that') and re-clicked 'best available'. Oops. 15 minutes later her browser came back with these, mid-way between the red and blue lines about two rows back from the wall on the upper level. Ouch. Acoustics there were horrible. The drums and most of the guitar came through okay but the bass just rolled around the place and completely drown out the vocals. Most of the time you couldn't even tell if Maynard was singing or not unless you already knew the songs, which unfortunately, I don't. A major disappointment but well cancelled out by the energy of the band, the crowd, and the stunning visuals.

I expected an over the top visual performance and that's exactly what I got. There were four screens behind the band, plus two larger ones up and out to the sides, and the entire stage floor itself was used for projection to dramatic and stunning effect. As Stacey put it, "It's usually pretty cheesy to show your own videos at concerts, but when you produce them yourself and maintain total creative control, it just fits." Perfectly. Add to that the shitloads of vari-lites, moving truss segments, and the most individual lasers I've ever seen in one place (not just multiplied with mirrors) and the whole thing was like, just -- wow! In the second half, the scrim behind them showed the eyes regression from 10,000 Days, and looked really funky glowing in ultra purple then eye-poppingly crisp in oranges and reds. There was so much movement done on it with gobo rotators and vari-lite painting that I thought it was the brightest and most massive projection I'd ever seen, right up to the very end when the house lights revealed the painted design. Stunning.

The great thing about our seats was the ability they afforded to watch the crowd on the floor. Maybe it's me, but seeing them all swaying in waves; that were out of sync causing them to bunch up, crash, and rebound like real waves; was just really cool! Especially when all the cigarette lighters came out, the view we got of that bowl full of people was incredible. I have to say one thing though; cell phones don't cut it at rock concerts. If you haven't got the right equipment, then don't fucking play! Sit back, relax, and just take in all the flame flickering goodness.

As a non-fan I also got a kick out of a few things that rabid fans probably never even noticed. They played music on the PA between the openers and Tool (don't ask; I have no idea who the openers were and it was complete shit), and when Iron Maiden's Number of The Beast came on the crowd went completely nuts. This killed me because over half of them probably weren't even born when Bruce Dickinson first started belting it out. I'm thinking either the techies or the band must be real fans too, because they cranked it and took the opportunity to play with the lights a bit, then completely mellowed everything down again for the rest of the interlude til the band came on. Tres cool. Another neat thing was Tool's opening riff... I don't know if it was a nod to Canada or just part of the song, but I swear it was the guitar riff from Rush' A Passage to Bangkok. Nice.