the tool page

no one is innocent

This site is no longer being updated. See here for details. Follow me here and here for updates. Thank you for 22 great years. (And yes, lyrics are posted for new album "Fear Inoculum".)


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The Tool Page: An Article


Date: July, 2002

Transcribed by
Stu (

 title: TOOL Live
author: Miles Gunter 

Fort Worth Convention Center Arena, Dallas, TX July 23, 2002

I wasn't gonna go see TOOL. I wasn't gonna pay fifty bucks. 
Hell, I don't like paying more than twenty to see anyone. But 
I said that the last time they came through and regretted not 
going. Given the state of the world and the looming finality 
that every day brings with it, I decided to relent. Fifty fuckin' 
bucks for this shit- it had better be good.

Usually I like to get pre-loaded before a show, but since I 
had to navigate through uncharted waters, sobriety is the rule-
 at least until I get into my seat. Since my buddy K is riding 
shotgun, he didn't have to worry about that- and is 
henceforth ripped to the gills. In a heat-induced rage, I'd 
destroyed my car CD player the day before, so I scrounge for 
old mix tapes down in the cracks- anything to make us not 
think about the fact that the AC is broken. We rock out to 

It's hot as fuck as K and I roll up to the Fort Worth 
Convention Center Arena, taking our place in line to get 
reamed for parking. For big venue shows, I'm used to 
parking lots that look like the vault in RAIDERS- but this shit 
was tiny. Like the lot for an animatronic pizza parlor. I ditch 
my wallet, recheck the status of the joints in my sock, check 
for lighter, keys, ID, cell-phone, money. We're good, so with 
agua in hand, we roll down the way past the scalpers. All of 
them look like extras from LIVE AND LET DIE.

The scalpers gouge away as we jaywalk across the one-way, 
past a parking lot under construction. It's the kinda spot the 
location scouts for HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES have wet 
dreams about. We turn the corner and step under the 
overhanging rim of the 70's style arena. It's cheesy, to be 
sure, but not nearly as big as I anticipated. Maybe these 
nosebleed seats won't be so bad, after all. Religious 
protestors flank the massive throng of kids- the majority of 
them wear black t-shirts advertising mainstream-oriented 
rock bands.

Finally, the doors open and the kids swarm through the 
doors. They are so hungry for TOOL. You can see the hunger 
in their eyes. This has taken the place of X-nas and 
birthdays. We step into the air conditioning, past the metal 
detectors and up to merchandise booth for $10 stickers and 
$30 hats. It makes me sick, but part of me would do the 
same thing in their place. K gets some water for his 
continuing battle with cotton mouth and we head into the 
arena. I'm pleasantly surprised to see that it's not as big as I 

The band will not be dots - we'll have a clear view of 
everything! Feeling victorious, we take our place on row Q and 
pass the time people-watching. The fat girl in the row in front 
of me initiates drama relentlessly- she can't let a minute go 
by where she isn't verbally upset about the location of her cell 
phone. A WASP-y chum takes a seat next to her with his 
white collar wanna-be porn star girlfriend. She's a little too 
bony for the cutoff shorts, but K doesn't seem to mind. I 
don't see a lot of men and women but I do see a lot of 
children and people in arrested development. Sadly, no 
strange women take my breath away- there will be no need 
for heroics tonight.

The lights go down and TOMAHAWK takes the stage. I'm a 
big, big Mike Patton fan- mostly of his post- FNM work- MR. 
BUNGLE, FANTOMAS and TOMAHAWK. T-hawk takes the stage 
in a fury- Patton is dressed as a police officer, complete with 
nightstick. They tear into the sexy bounce of "Flashback" and 
I roll out the first joint of the evening. I tell K not to worry. 
We are so deep into the seating section that there's no way 
the pigs and security can do fuck. None of them are even 
bothering to come up into the balcony- which suites me just 
fine. TOMAHAWK was the thing that really sold me on the 
show- I saw them last fall and it's obvious that they've 
tightened up a lot since then. Patton juggles vocal styles 
unlike anyone else in modern music. K figured all that shit is 
done in the studio- and it is, with most performers. But not 
Patton. He does it all with a furious panache that is his own. 
One moment he's got the lungs of Sinatra, the next 
moment, hilarious, echoing, shrieky mad-scientist shit. But it 
is an acquired taste and most of the rednecks aren't having 
it. By the fifth song "God Hates a Coward," the audience is 
making with the big boos. So Patton takes it up a few 
notches- working his mad-scientist panel for all its worth. He 
is a living comic book- every moment filled with dynamicism. 
I laugh and laugh as he piles on the truth- panel after sonic 
panel. The boos are even louder, so Maynard comes out 
looking like an evangalist from "V"- and works the crowd up 
into a frenzy with his Christian shout-out shtick. It's funny 
and the TOOLheads go insane, talking about it nonstop for 
the rest of the show. I envy them their big, easy emotions.

After TOMAHAWK, I head to the head. Surprisingly, despite 
the line, no one has resorted to shitting in the sinks. Maybe 
Fort Worth isn't so bad after all. The hallway lining the arena 
is mobbed. I feel like I'm in Kuenascatsee on `ludes- or 
however the fuck you spell it. Getting a drink means standing 
in line for a half-hour so I grab some water from the fountain 
and head back to my seat. The place has really filled up now- 
all the boys try to look like EMINEM, all the girls try to look 
like BRITNEY SPEARS. I guiltily join two jarheads in 
persecuting some kids a few rows ahead with homemade 
TOOL shirts. The shit is totally airbrush MJ Designs- probably 
got their mom to do it. I make some jokes and they laugh a 
little too easily- no matter- I'll soon feel the guilt of my light 

The lights dim and the sonic fog begins. Huge twin video 
monitors flicker to life, illuminating eyeballs cast in blue 
flame- they are framed in the sawblade-style ring of eyes. 
Guitarist Adam Jones works an eerie keyboard concoction as 
the other band members take their places in the teal 
darkness. Singer Maynard James Keenan is a profile 
silhouette, lit crisply against an immense, lit drapery. The 
lights create a color I can't quite place- equal parts blue and 
gold and red. They open up with "Sober," which is naturally 
met with thunderous approval by the herd. Not 
exactly "Hooker with a Penis," if you know what I mean. The 
monitors show the video through a layer of psychedelic black 
and white hypnotic, strobing vortexes. Next is "Flood"- yeah, 
now we're talking. They skip the long-ass intro (a shame), 
but it's nice to hear, all the same. Not a lot of variation, but 
the pounding intensity you'd expect- the ritual begins. The 
drapery drops, revealing an immense psychedelic mural 
showing a big red, veiny frontal face streaming off into two 
profile faces. These two faces bridge into two blue watery 
skull images which feed back into two fetus images. Typical 
death, rebirth imagery- but beautifully designed and lit 
throughout the songs. They tear into "The Grudge"- the first 
track off Lateralus, with an awesome confidence. Maynard 
stands atop a projection screen, singing about Saturn's 
ascension with an urgency and a truth that is reflected onto 
all of us. He arches his back to the heavens, delivering the 
final primal scream that echoes off into the sky. Now the 
planets have begun to take notice. They follow with "Stinkfist" 
and "46 & 2"- classics off their 1996 album Aenima. You can 
hear the crowd booming out all the lyrics, but none as loud as 
the Hispanic-Asian kid that has taken root next to me. He 
jackrabbits around in a nicotine-induced fit, running his hands 
through his hair in ecstatic bliss as Maynard shakes his ass in 
the shadows.

Electricity crackles along the ceiling and monitors to the 
sound of (-) ions. "Good evening, Texas," says Maynard. He 
wears a black leathery suit- like a minimalist Cenobite. On 
closer inspection, it looks like part of his face is painted- 
maybe the left-hand side- but it is hard to see clearly. The 
audience hungrily devoirs his every word. They would follow 
him into battle, no question.

Glitters sails down from the ceiling during "Schism." Some of 
the video imagery stuff is kind of boring. Most of the stuff is 
the same animation looped over and over, but when they 
start blending the images together it makes for much more 
successful, trippy-ass shit. A tentacle-headed dude wearing a 
suit wiggles his tentacled arms, as white, powdery intestinals 
contract at a slower frame rate - while a gold sun frames 
them both. We suck down the second joint- or at least, I do. 
I hold the hits as long as I can for maximum effect. True to 
their name, I find myself reflecting on my own life, my own 
actions, my own inactions, my beliefs, the old beliefs I don't 
have anymore, the amount of money these dudes are 
making, all of the nuances of this moment etc. Maynard 
strips down to bra and panties. He tells us that we remind 
them of why they do what they do. It's rehearsed but 
genuine. The lights go down and the video monitors show a 
grey-skinned bald humanoid. His face swims away from itself 
at an angle and back again. The bass drones up into a solid 
wall of sonic fog. It is loud- uncomfortably so. The sound 
works its way inside you. As the bass intensifies more and 
more the face rips further and further away from the head- 
back and forth like rubber. The bass drones up even louder- 
making me feel every molecule of by being as the face tears 
away. The bass explodes as the skin tears away violently 
revealing the skull. It tears itself away and comes back at 
lighting speed. This interlude goes on for about ten minutes. 
It is the true test of the audience. TOOL's way of saying- ok, 
you like our songs, but what about this? It's pure self-
indulgence and I love it- easily my favorite part of the show. 
It is pure, crushing ritual and it's not long before several of 
the people around me get up and leave.

Next is "Parabol," "Parabola"- two of my favorites off the new 
album. Five murals descend from the ceiling showing Alex 
Grey's different layers of the body- starting with the skeleton, 
muscles, chakras, energy body and finally pure cosmic 
energy. But lo! The final mural is stuck- could it be TOOL's 
criticism of the herd? Behind them is a new Alex Grey mural: 
a vortex of eyeballs spiraling into infinity. A gigantic six-
pointed star descends above Maynard. If it fell, he would be 
cleaved in two. The kids behind me can't figure it out. Six 
points? What the fuck? Two gigantic cellular masses float in 
midair above the band. It's all very impressive. 
The "Parabola" video plays along with the song. I don't watch 
TV, so I hadn't seen it. It's spectacular! The final, droning 
Earth style riffs resound as the man in the video transforms 
into the Alex Grey animation- stripping away the illusion of 
physical reality and resulting transcendence. I'm reminded of 
my daily yoga practice and the efforts I make to stay 
connected to God each and every day. It's a beautiful 
moment- truly inspiring. Words fail me.

They play "Opiate"- another case of catering to the crowd. So 
many other tunes I'd rather hear, like "Cold and Ugly," "Jerk 
Off," "Jimmy," "Undertow" or "Eulogy" - oh, well. They 
continue with the ambient "Disposition," Eastern-
influenced "Reflection," and jam-session "Triad": sadly, 
no "Ticks and Leeches." As the audience roars for more, the 
band members huddle as I try to use my budding psychic 
powers to make them play "No Quarter." However, I still have 
much to learn about mind control, since they opt 
for "Lateralus" instead. Once again, the band delivers the 
cosmic goods.

After, the band members join in a group hug. Drum god 
Danny Carey is gargantuan! He looks damn near 7 feet tall 
and all muscle. He whips a cymbal out into the audience. It 
hurls to the side and into the security area. A total misfire but 
he's still a badass. Maynard throws out water bottles and 
disappears quickly before the others. Eerily postured guitarist 
Adam Jones waves out a single alien swipe. A great set but 
nowhere close to August, `97 when they did play "No 
Quarter." It was like watching mountains fucking - at least to 
my younger self.

There ya go.

Posted to t.d.n: 07/31/02 01:00:32