the tool page

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The Tool Page: An Article

Publication: Grand Rapids Press

Date: September, 2001

Transcribed by
Kurt (

 title: Tool Creates Powerful Art Worthy of Attention
author: John Serba

Tool creates powerful art worthy of attention 

Friday, September 14, 2001

I'm willing to bet that the 10,000 or so fans who went to Van 
Andel Arena Thursday night weren't expecting the Scottville 
Clown Band to be the main attraction.

Of course, Tool singer Maynard James Keenan was exhibiting 
his trademark sarcasm when he introduced his band as such -
- and if you're wondering why he can make such an obscure 
West Michigan reference (yes, there really is a Scottville 
Clown Band), well, he used to live here.

Beyond that, it was mostly serious business for Tool Thursday 
night. The group spent the past two days in Grand Rapids 
after postponing Tuesday's show due to the national tragedy. 
As a result, Keenan and his bandmates, Adam Jones on 
guitar, Justin Chancellor on bass and Danny Carey on drums, 
seemed to be well-rested and in peak form throughout the 
two-hour show, even though the singer admitted otherwise.

"We're finding it very difficult to concentrate tonight," Keenan 
said, adding later, "I have a suggestion for you: Take the 
feelings you've experienced in the last few days and hang on 
to them, good or bad, and please create something positive 
with them."

And as strong feelings lead to the creation of powerful art, 
the band's performance of "Schism" seemed to take on a 
whole new meaning. Tool's songs have almost always been 
about relationships and the quest for spiritual clarity -- but 
hearing Keenan sing, "To bring the pieces back together/And 
rediscover communication" on Thursday night seemed 
especially potent and timely.

As did "The Patient" ("Be patient... I must keep reminding 

myself of this") and "The Grudge" ("Wear your grudge like a 
crown of negativity/Calculate what you will or will not 
tolerate... Unable to forgive your scarlet lettermen"). Tool's 
concert seemed to be a welcome release not only for the 
fans -- some of whom, prior to Tool's set, unfurled an 
American flag, which was cheered -- but for the band as well.

"Hopefully, tonight has been somewhat of a soundtrack for 
healing," Keenan told the crowd. "Because there's certainly 
going to be a lot more pain in the coming years."

But before things got too heavy-handed or somber, Keenan 
immediately broke some of the tension by having the crowd 
take his "nonconformist oath." "Repeat after me: Question 
authority. Strive to be different. Strive to be unique. Never 
repeat what other people say," he quipped.

Ha ha.

The band then blasted through "Opiate," which, at about four 
minutes, proved to be the set's shortest song. Indeed, Tool's 
forte seems to be lengthy, psychedelic epics replete with 
drawn-out instrumental intros, outros and interludes and 
bouts of extreme aggression complemented by extreme 
melodicism -- which explains how the band managed to play 
only 11 songs in two hours and five minutes.

Which isn't to imply that the band seeks to completely 
alienate more casual fans. More popular 
tunes "Stinkfist," "Forty-Six & 2" and "Prison Sex" came early 
in the set, and every song featured bizarre, highly creative 
video footage -- which was both comical and disturbing -- 
projected onto two giant screens towering above the stage.

Generally, Tool's show completely de-emphasized the band 
members, instead focusing almost completely on visual 
imagery and musicianship. Even Keenan, whose odd stage 
demeanor has been the primary focus at past shows, was on 
a platform on the back of the stage in front of a smaller 
video screen, making him essentially a silhouette throughout 
most of the performance. Not until the lights came up at the 
very end of the concert could the fans who weren't close to 
the stage see that the singer was painted white from head to 
toe, with a wide black stripe down the middle of his face.

The sound mix was extraordinary, not too loud but very clear, 
so Keenan's melodic vocals were never in fear of being 
drowned out by Carey's astoundingly technical drumming. 
Thus, the soft-to-loud dynamics of "Parabol/Parabola" and 
the extended "remix" version of "Pushit" were quite intense 
and powerful.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a basic 4/4 beat to pump your 
fists to at a Tool concert, so brainy and complex its music can 
be. That's one thing the band had in common with opening 
act Meshuggah, which proved itself to be one of the most 
astounding heavy metal acts out there today. I could use up 
this entire article attempting to describe the Swedish group's 
musical complexities -- but I'll be content saying that the 
band certainly keeps you on your toes, taking jarring leaps 
from bludgeoning chaos to avant-garde jazzy melodicism to 
staccato rhythms, which may have been a bit too obtuse for a 
largely indifferent crowd. Still, Meshuggah played incredibly 
interesting stuff.

Posted to t.d.n: 09/14/01 23:53:27