Publication: Honolulu Star-Bulletin
Date: November, 2001
page: title: Channeling The Spirits, Calling Down The Demons author: Gary C. W. Chun Hey, if you still have your 1995 Big Mele ticket stub, maybe you'll be able to get in free to tomorrow night's Tool concert ... Or maybe not. This is how rumors and legends start: 1993 was the band's breakout year. The mysterious post-punk/metal L.A. band with the lowest of public profiles released a huge-selling debut album in "Undertow," and had just finished that summer's Lollapalooza tour. After performing at the inaugural Big Mele in August 1993, Tool was set to make its triumphant return to the islands. On the day of the '95 Mele, Tool canceled its headlining appearance at the last moment due to a personal emergency that had vocalist Maynard James Keenan returning to L.A., hence the apology in the form of a promise to honor the ticket stub. (With the exception of bassist Justin Chancellor, the band's original lineup is still intact after eight years, with Keenan, guitarist Adam Jones and drummer Danny Carey.) Free show or not, fans know the operative word for Tool's music is "dark"; lyrics and instrumentation of a somber, occult, neo-tribal nature, with a churning, roiling sound relentless in its, um, "heavyosity." It's a sound the band has been able to successfully mine since '93, despite infrequent touring and a near-faceless presence on the contemporary music scene. It would be three years before "Aenima" would be released as Tool's second album, and an unheard-of five years until this year's "Lateralus" debuted. Between those releases, Tool was embroiled in a legal battle with its record label. But Keenan was busy during that time, working in the well- received side band, A Perfect Circle. To placate avid Tool fans, "Salival," a two-disc CD/DVD set featuring Jones' disturbing animated music videos for the band, as well as live and previously unreleased material, came out last year. The band's taut, muscular sound and controlled chaos is at its peak on "Lateralus," though the disc introduces songs that have a bit of light and celebration in them, i.e. "Parabol/Parabola" and the title track. Dynamic, extended tracks like "Disposition" and "Reflection" show how well the band sound-sculpts its music, to the point where, on the odd-metered "Triad," Tool sounds like this generation's version of progressive rock pioneers King Crimson. Which may not be too far-fetched a comparison. The band worked with Crimson's engineer Bill Bottrill on "Lateralus," and had even toured with Robert Fripp's group on the mainland. Check out this description that Carey gave to Pulse magazine in April about the song "Lateralus": "(It) was originally called '987.' It was a bass riff that Justin had: It is a bar of nine, a bar of eight and a bar of seven. We started talking about this, and Maynard said it had kind of a spiral-type feel, and we realized that 987 is the 12th step of the Fibonacci sequence, which is a mathematical sequence that spirals, like conch shells and sunflowers, are all made off that formula." That will mean little to tomorrow night's moshers, but it's nice to know that Tool rocks with both force and intellect.
page: title: Tool's Dark and Stormy Night author: Gary C.W. Chun Tool rocked Saturday's sold-out house at the UH's Andrews Amphitheatre, and did it without one whit of star posturing or exhorting the audience to join them in the usual rock 'n' roll calisthenics. But there was plenty of what a friend of mine quipped "sturm und sturm," storm and more storm. Through eight years of playing live, right through this, the last show of the band's current tour, Adam Jones, Maynard James Keenan and Danny Carey, along with newest member Justin Chancellor, have remained uncompromised. Tool panders to no one, and the band is popular enough that the audience at least tolerates their unorthodox presentation. Coming into the venue, there was a sign taped to the side of the tickets tent with a plea from the band asking concertgoers to refrain from moshing and crowd surfing to prevent injury. As expected, that didn't happen, but for the most part, it looked to be a relatively peaceful concert, what with no beer garden on the grounds, no alcoholic beverages being allowed into the concert and the occasional rain. The band came through with a tight set, one in sync with the projected video that illustrated their songs with either abstract, computer-generated imagery or snippets of the Adam Jones music videos shot for MTV. (Before going on, to correct my Friday preview story, the band did make up its canceled 1995 Big Mele by playing a reportedly great show later that year at After Dark.) Apparently, the lack of direct stage lighting on the members of Tool held true back then as it did now. The band was basically illuminated with back lights, Carey and his drum kit being the most visible. Besides watching his amazing drumming, the only things you could see on stage besides the video was a dimly lit Jones and Chancellor on either side of the stage, Keenan's near silhouette (although you could see that his head was shaven and he was clothed only in tight, black shorts), his lithe form writhing to the music's primal ferocity. It was appropriate that Keenan thanked the group's video director for his visual contribution to the tour's concerts, because it was apparent that Tool wasn't going to detract from its powerful music by becoming more visible than necessary. While Keenan did all of the occasional and cordial stage patter Saturday, the staging made it clear that he's not Tool's frontman, but an equal member of this unit. So it was that the music and videos, beginning with the second song, "Stinkfest," carried this concert. In order to stay in sync with the live performance, the video director would visually "scratch" the unsettling imagery, going back-and- forth until the video could progress in time with the song. Keenan wittily took a lyrical quote from the Elvis Presley hit "Suspicious Minds" during the instrumental break. "Schism," the single off Tool's latest album "Lateralus," was a well-received fever dream as stark, black-and-white, male- and-female anatomies were peeled away to reveal the dark mysteries of their psyches. As bass frequencies rumbled through concertgoers' bodies, Tool kicked into the sturm of one of its '93 debut hit "Sober," with unsettling imagery of a human eye being prepared for an operation looping on video screens. From there, things quieted for the mystical "Disposition," as an underwater ballet video played, blue stage lights slowly sweeping over the audience. As on the album, Tool segued to "Reflection," a sinewy, recurring nightmarish scenario with a mind-awakening James solo and an especially keening vocal by Keenan. The band let the song slow to an end, with a hypnotic repeating guitar figure by Jones, and then emptiness. And it really was relatively quiet. While the band recollected offstage, a video played with an abstract rotating figure, arms akimbo, over a black background, while the audience waited for the band's return. They came back, one by one, slowly joining in with the prog-rock instrumental "Triad," with more action in the mosh pit. "We are Jukebox, thank you very much for coming," quipped Keenan as the rain started to come down harder. That magic moment when the band and audience click happened during "Aenima." There seemed to be more pogoing to this apocalyptic tune than before, bodies moving to the insistent groove all the way to the back of the amphitheater. After that song exhausted everyone, Keenan quipped, "God is peeing on us," before thanking the audience "for sharing this warm, moist moment." He went on to say that he hoped that the concert would be a catalyst for positive inspirations. The evening ended with the hard crunch of "Lateralus," the optimistic lyrics of looking to live with infinite possibilities, pushing the envelope and "reaching to embrace whatever may come" buoyed by the elemental, bone-crushing intensity of the music. An encore would have been superfluous. Tool had given its all.
Posted to t.d.n: 01/21/02 15:46:48