Spring 1997 Tour Reviews

Date: March 7

From: miller@qni.com Subject: TOOL review (Wichita, 3/7/97) For my review of the November 11, 1996, go to (http://toolshed.down.net/tour/fall96/9611112.html) . A review of a show I saw in Omaha in the spring of1994 used to be on the old sas.upenn.edu page, but has since vanished. Review March 7, 1997 Cotillion Ballroom Wichita, Kansas The Cotillion Ballroom is not exactly the crown jewel of mid-sized Midwestern concert venues. The inside of the building is an open rotunda with food vendors and tables along the outer edge and a huge "ballroom floor" in the center. On one end of the ballroom is a stage where marginal big band music plays for the entertainment of gray hairs. This stage has a saffron yellow shell to project the swingin' big band sounds out to the box-stepping dancers on weekend nights. But not on this weekend night. On this Friday, a massive stage and PA rig had been built in front of the band shell, and instead of retirees dancing cheek to cheek in tuxedos and chiffon dresses, the dance floor had been taken over by black-shirted freaks and long hairs. And they weren't here to fox trot. Mosh, maybe, but not fox trot. Outside the venue, TOOL guitarist Adam Jones and King Buzzo and Mark D (respectively, the Melvins' guitarist/vocalist and bassist) were chatting about some of the things that they deal with on a day-to-day basis: old friends who don't hesitate to stab you in the back for a few bucks, the demands put upon them that would compromise their integrity should they heed them, and so on. When it's all said and done, they agreed that the best thing to do is to always remember why you started making music in the first place rather than to cave in to the pressures to make money for other people. This is part of TOOL's appeal: They won't sell out, and their refusal to be The Next Big Thing creates a bit of mystery and enigma about them, a kind of mythology. But even enigmas can have off nights. When the Melvins finally walked on stage, the crowd was ready to finally hear something. Within minutes of the Melvin's twisted onslaught, little kids were moshing it up. They weren't exactly responding to the music (after all, this is the same town whose audience was chastised by Eddie Vedder a few years ago for moshing during ballads), but they were responding to their new-found wanna-be-a-bad-ass desires. It was like recess. As Buzzo put it, "This room is giving me a hard-on." He was kidding. King Buzzo's all-natural fright wig hairdo is one of the most recognizeable in the business, and is always disarming to people who've never seen them live. But one of the most impressive and most easily missed features of the Melvins is the way drummer Dale Crover sings along with Buzzo, creating an unearthly-sounding vocal attack. This combined with the shifting sands of tempo and backhanded riffs was dizzying. The Melvins' set ended without much acclaim from the crowd. Most just wanted to hear a few TOOL hit songs, maybe get stoned, and perhaps mosh it up a little. Who were those three guys, anyway? TOOL didn't have their video screens set up, so it was a shock when the lights went down and the Ænima album cover graphics began shimmering on the yellow band shell behind the stage. It became clear that rather than on the flat, easy-to-view silver screens, the graphics were going to be shown on this shell. Imagine watching a movie being projected onto a cave wall from outside, and you'll get the idea how appealing this was. The band finally walked on, Danny towering over his drum riser, the horned Justin covered in big red polka dots, Adam sporting his usual non-chalance, and Maynard....Maynard. Maynard was done up in clown makeup and wearing a fright wig not unlike King Buzzo's God-given hair. No blue makeup. (He had a good reason for not wearing body paint that night - the Cotillion had no showers - but he didn't tell this to the crowd, nor did he explain the clown getup or the wig.) Rather than a song-by-song run-down, I'll try to recall the setlist (not necessarily in order) and make a few comments: Third Eye 4 Degrees ("This song is about anal sex.") Stinkfist (with new instrumental interlude in the middle) Prison Sex (including new bridge) Forty-Six & 2 Eulogy H. Sober (with really long drum solo and noise intro) Ænema This was a short show. Maynard introduced their last song, but didn't follow up with "off our first album" like usual. They just started into "Ænima". Compare this setlist from November: Third Eye Stinkfist Prison Sex Forty-Six & 2 Eulogy Jimmy Cold & Ugly H. Hooker with a Penis Sober Opiate Ænema The pace of the show and tempos of the songs were very slow. I thought TOOL had outgrown the habit of playing their songs about 25% slower than on record, but here they were plodding along through their set like they used to do, with about half the energy the songs demanded. As a result, they didn't play as tight as I've heard them play before. Justin and Danny missed a few cues. In addition, Maynard wasn't holding those long notes out like he's known to do. TOOL was having an off night. The crowd didn't really notice, or care. It was strong and loud. It was TOOL. It was Friday night. Now before anyone freaks out, this point should be made clear: TOOL on a bad night is still better than most any band you'll see on their good night. The intensity, the power, and special effects were all there, and of course the songs are great. The crowd obviously dug it (at least as much as Wichita crowds dig anything decent) and for those who had never seen TOOL do better, this show was still astounding. But TOOL could have done so much better, and maybe a little more, than they did that night. Scott Allen Miller miller@qni.com

From: OGT (email-removed @horizon.hit.net) Subject: kansas show review The show at wichita, kansas totally kicked ASS! It was my first time seeing tool, and it was much more than expected. Although the pushing and shoving of the kids in the crowd sometimes sucked, it was still OK. The show started out with the Melvins and I wasn't really in the mood too watch them because I was there to see a better band play. The melvens didnt do to bad, though. But I was ready for them to leave. After about 20 minutes after the melvins left stage, there was soft music and a loud hum (kind of like (-) ions) that stayed at the same volume for over ten minutes I'd say. Everyone was so ready to see tool, they were chanting either TOOL or MAYNARD, just to stay excited, I guess. But everyone just started screaming once the lights went out and two screens of the AENIMA cover went on. the colors got distorted a few times, and by then, everyone was chanting TOOL! TOOL! TOOL! TOOL! TOOL! TOOL! It kicked ass. The band started walking out onto the stage, one by one, and everyone looked like there normal self. Except for Maynard. I couldn't believe what I was seeing once he came out there. He was wearing nothing but a pair of gray sweatpants, and his hair was totally amazing. He had a HUGE 'FRO! He looked like a clown! his hair (wig) was his normal hair color, and his face paint was silver around his eyes going to points down his cheeks. It was totally amazing. The setlist was the same it had been for the last few shows, they opened with Third Eye and Stinkfist, and got 4 degrees, Sober, Eulogy, H., Forty Six & 2, Aenema, and a couple more in there somewhere (can't remember the exact order). It was totally amazing hearing them open with Third Eye and hearing everyone sing along with "So good to see you. I've missed you so much.." It was really amazing. The only thing was, when they played Aenema, He said "this is our last song" and I was just waiting for him say "off the first album" and then play OPIATE. but they never did. Aenema really was the last song. Right before they played 4 degrees, Maynard said something like this "All of our songs are about anal sex, but this song is about a particular KIND of anal sex" and then they just started playing. Needless to say, It was the best time I've had in A LONG TIME, and it totally kicked ass. chris