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The Tool Page: An Article

Publication: MTV Online

Date: August, 2001

Transcribed by
Stu (

 title: Tool Stretch Out And Slow Down In Show With King Crimson 
author: Laura Bond
MORRISON, Colorado  There might be a better setting for a 
Tool concert, but it doesn't exist in waking life: The 
prehistoric, rugged beauty of Red Rocks Amphitheater felt 
almost threatening when serving as the physical backdrop for 
the band's volcanic performance on Friday night, which 
opened a brief tour with prog-rock veterans King Crimson.

Flanked by rock formations pushed up from the bubbling 
earth more than 60 million years ago (and donning a bald 
head, sporadic body paint and a black leather bodice), Tool 
frontman Maynard James Keenan looked like an 
androgynous ambassador of the apocalypse. Judging by the 
capacity crowd  the show sold out in less than an hour  
Keenan's faithful are more eager than ever to receive his 
message, even as the band's sound moves further and 
further from the mainstream.

Viewing Keenan onstage is like glimpsing a rare animal in the 
wild: He has so much internal energy he seems primed to 
explode, or bolt, at any moment. Cloaked in leathers of 
various lengths  for "Lateralis," he wore nothing but boots 
and a pair of Speedo-like underthings  he rarely broke from 
his trance-like state to acknowledge the audience. Rather, he 
showed fans his back and crouched near a gigantic video 
screen in the middle of the stage as it projected images of 
the band, as well as the anatomically oriented illustrations 
that have become Tool's hallmark.

At times, Keenan seemed physically pained by the rigors of 
his live performance, casting shadows with his own writhing 
body that mirrored the rhythmic pulsing of multi-colored 
strobe lights.

Tool focused on material from their new album, Lateralus, a 
sweeping, ambitious, slower work that finds them continuing 
to eschew the song-driven confines of metal or alternative 
rock. Their decision to strike out on a short tour with King 
Crimson  the once and future kings of progressive rock  
suggests Tool are doing their best to shed the associations 
of their grunge-era beginnings and dive head first into the 
grand chasm of art rock, to the possible dismay of some fans 
who expected to hear more familiar material.

Though the band did indulge those fans with faithful readings 
of some older songs including "Prison Sex" and "Aenima," 
Friday's show had much to do with the down-tempo, 
contemplative meanderings of a more introspective Keenan 
found on songs from the new album such as "Ticks & 
Leeches" and "Reflection." Both of those hovered near the 10-
minute mark.

The night felt more like an opera, or a German-style cabaret 
set in Thunderdome, than the aggression-filled romps that 
marked the band's early performances. Still, Tool conveyed a 
kind of frenzied macho-ness, a quality heightened by 
Keenan's cult leader-like presence.

Tool were both convincing and over-the-top in their intensity, 
two qualities Keenan and crew may well have lifted from the 
King Crimson school of live performance. At one point during 
Tool's set, Keenan acknowledged his debt to the long-
running art rockers: "For me, being on stage with King 
Crimson is like Lenny Kravitz playing with Led Zeppelin, or 
Britney Spears onstage with Debbie Gibson."

In a prolonged opening set, artsy elder statesmen Robert 
Fripp and his mates  regrouped for a short tour supporting 
a series of reissues of the band's early work  reflected the 
sonic indulgence that has defined the band since the 
late '60s. King Crimson didn't crack a smile during excursions 
into jazz, fusion and psychedelia. "Thela Hun Ginjeet," King 
Crimson's only non-instrumental offering of the day, was a 
moment of lightness in a dense and difficult set.

While it's nice to think that Tool's fans might appreciate the 
chance to visit some of the strange, unwieldy places from 
whence the band's music springs, King Crimson's music might 
have been a bit too cerebral for those who were here to rock.

Posted to t.d.n: 08/07/01 07:52:58