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The Tool Page: An Article

Publication: The Grand Rapids Press

Date: March 5, 1997

Transcribed by
John Serba (jserba@iserv.net)


  page: 
 title: Tool: Kalamazoo Review
author: John Serba

Tool, to make a comparison, is like a multi-dimensional drug. The
band's music has the power to both heal and alter reality.
        
This idea seemed to be the common thread of Tool's live show at
Wings Stadium in Kalamazoo Tuesday night. Whether the 8,000-plus fans 
who attended the sold-out concert realized this or not is 
questionable, but their reaction to Tool's hour-and-a-half set was 
overwhelmingly positive.
        
However, Tool doesn't seem too concerned about alienating fans,
evidenced by its first song, the decidedly anti-commercial "Third 
Eye." The trippy, 13-minute epic started the show with subtlety and 
restraint. The song, which is apparently about the discovery of 
newfound awareness, gradually piled up layers of psychedelic noise, 
eventually peaking with singer Maynard James Keenan repeatedly 
bellowing, "Prying open my third eye!"
        
Actually, save for the bizarre images and videos projected on two
screens above the stage, Keenan was the show. Clad only in boxer 
shorts and boots and painted blue from head to toe, the singer 
contorted his sinewy frame to the obtuse rhythms of the music. Keenan, 
who lived in Scottville for part of his life, and even attended 
Kendall College in Grand Rapids, often appeared to be hypnotized by 
Tool's dense sonic barrage as he sang.
        
"Some people think that I'm from Michigan," Keenan quipped
sarcastically between songs. "But they're wrong. I'm actually from 
Brazil, and I moved here a year ago. I don't even speak English."
        
Obviously, despite his knack for writing lyrics revolving around
serious themes, Keenan still has a sense of humor. He even dedicated 
the disturbing, and occasionally violent, song "Crawl Away" to "the 
poop in kid's pants."
        
During the songs, though, intensity reigned. "Forty-six & 2" and
"Eulogy," both from "AEnima," the band's latest album, found guitarist 
Adam Jones and bassist Justin Chancellor weaving a tight sonic rug 
around Danny Carey's technical, and occasionally insane, drumming. 
Jones prefers to create moody atmospheres--the soft, yet dark intro to 
"Eulogy," for example--instead of banging out simplistic power chords 
or showing off fretboard calisthenics.
        
Smack in the middle of the set, Tool played a trio of songs that
proved to be the best of the evening. The introspective "Jimmy" was
followed by the slow, crunching "4 Degrees" (from the 1993 album,
"Undertow"); "H." came in tow, and found Keenan "recalling all the 
times I have died...I don't mind." All three songs encapsulated 
Keenan's ability to be menacing and fragile, his voice a near-mumble 
one moment, and soaring into a snarling rage the next.
        
Tool did play their two biggest radio hits, "Stinkfist" and
"Sober," but with some added changes. "Stinkfist" received the best 
crowd response, but the mosh pits slowed down when the band added a 
couple of new riffs to the song. But what really slowed down the 
movement on the floor was the 15-minute intro to "Sober," which found 
Jones and Chancellor making eerie, squelching noised from their 
instruments as Carey pounded out some tribal rhythms. The new intro 
caused a mesmerizing effect on some, while others glanced at their 
watches, impatient for the song to start.
        
A slower, heavier version of the title track from Tool's first EP,
"Opiate," followed, to which many in the crowd sang along, the lyrics
touching upon Karl Marx's idea that "religion is the opiate of the 
masses." "AEnima" was the final song of the set, which is appropriate 
considering its apocalyptic theme. "Learn to swim," Keenan advises 
California residents, warning them of the impending submersion of the 
state into the Pacific Ocean. The song also finds the singer ranting 
about society: "Fret for your prozac and fret for you contract...it's 
a (expletive) three-ring circus."
        
The only negative aspect of Tool's performance lies within the fact
that the band's complex, intelligent message is lost to such a large 
crowd. Tool's intensity seemed spread too thin within the huge walls 
of Wings Stadium; the band would be much more effective in a smaller 
venue, which would enhance the claustrophobic aspects of the music.
        
Opening the show was the Melvins, who played pretty much non-stop
for 40 minutes. The band's chunky, grating sound was like pure sonic 
mud through the stadium's sound system. A throbbing, low-end rumble 
was just about all that was decipherable, making those in the crowd 
with earplugs thankful for their foresight. The Melvins' sense of 
humor managed to seep through the muck a little bit, but for the most 
part, the set seemed like a lost cause.

Posted to t.d.n: 05/08/97 22:17:49