A Review of the Fall 1996 Tour

Date: November 14

From: Brian Topf (bstopf@midway.uchicago.edu) Pandora's Toolbox Tool's crowning achievement is not so much it's innovative and disturbing recorded material; but the expertise with which it is presented and performed live. When I was about to enter the doors of the Aragon, I had no idea of what sort of an evening I would have waiting for me. I had heard all the hype and anecdotes telling me how much they kicked ass live; and, in my mind before I saw them, I didn't think they could live up to it. I couldn't have been more wrong. The opening act, The Cows, were competent musicians, but should fire their sound tech for not mixing in the lead singers vocals correctly. After playing a 40 minute set, they left the stage; immediately followed were desperate chants of TOOL, TOOL, TOOL!! I took the opportunity to get off the floor to get some fresh air(and to take a leak), but I was back well in time for the grand entrance of the Band. The lights dimmed, the projectors went to work, and the recorded sound of burning twigs erupted from the speakers. On the projectors was the blazing quadrilateral sun which is on the cover of the Aenima LP. Finally, they walked on stage; Maynard was painted half blue and was wearing nothing but jockeys. His explanation was something like the following, "It's cold here. Someone stole my laundry; yes, everything. This is what I'll be wearing for the rest of the tour. If anyone wants to donate any clothing, just throw it up here." I think at least 2 or 3 articles of clothing went up instantly. He then introduced the rest of the band; Danny on drums, Adam on guitar, and a "special hello" to the new bass player Justin Chancellor. They started the set with an incredible version of "Third Eye". For me, it was Mosh Pit 101. The crowd dynamic was very intense, certainly tighter than anything I was used to. Next came an incredible version of "Stinkfist", the distortion of Maynards voice was more so than in the album version, I prefer the live version immensely. The rest of the set consisted of "46 and 2", "Swamp Song", "Eulogy", "Prison Sex", "Jimmy", "Pushit", "Sober", "Opiate", and "Aenima". I might be forgetting some, but I can't be sure. They also played a 5 or 6 minute introduction to "Sober" which was totally incredible and built up an immense amount of anticipation. When the familiar bass-lines went down and the clips from the now-infamous video were shown, I knew that I had just witnessed something special and uniquely beautiful. Perhaps the most amusing of Maynard's jokes came when he was introducing "Opiate". It went like this: Maynard: This is our last song... Audience Reaction: NOOOOOOO!!! Maynard: Off our first albun. Audience Reaction: YEAAAAH!! TOOOOOL!!! Very amusing, and Opiate was just as incredible live as it was on their EP. I couldn't get enough. They closed with "Aenima", who's "fuck LA" message really spoke to me, myself being from Northern California. After they left the stage, the lights came back on. I once again returned to the world from which TOOL allowed me to escape from for 90 minutes. The appropriate question to ask is where I was for those 90 surreal, nepenthe clouded minutes? Heaven? Hell? Someplace in between perhaps? At this point I couldn't say. All I can do is hope to someday repeat the experience again. If you haven't seen TOOL live yet, do yourselves a favor and GO! It's well worth any hassle you might have to endure. Enjoy.