the tool page

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The Tool Page: An Article

Publication: Chicago Tribune

Date: September, 2002

Transcribed by
Tom (

  page: 30
 title: Tool show titillates all the senses
author: Moira McCormick

Two hours of Tool leaves one as punch-drunk from the 
band's deeply disturbing, yet perversely gorgeous visuals as 
from its heady art-metal music.  As one fan remarked while 
exiting Thursday's concert at the United Center, "This was the 
next best thing to Cirque du Soleil."

The quartet of cerebral headbangers, arguably the most 
skillful hybridizers yet of intricate prog-rock and pulverizing 
riff-rock, offered to the near-capacity crowd a veritable circus 
of color, movement and jaw-dropping effects.

There were the pair of giant inflated morulas (clusters of 
embryonic cells), for instance, that gently rotated in the air, 
launched midway through the show during crowd 
favorite "Parabola."

Two soaring video screens flanking the stage displayed a 
constant stream of Tool visuals, the video images concocted 
primarily by guitarist Adam Jones, a former Hollywood 
makeup and prosthetic artist who, in his primal-dread-infused 
depictions of tortured, vivisected figures, seemed to be 
tapping directly into the subconscious place where our 
nightmares are forged.  Equally prominent in the Tool art 
attack was the work of Alex Grey, whose anatomical/Hindu 
hybrid backdrops and banners (a mandala of human eyes, 
for instance) provided a riotously hued contrast to the stark, 
unsettling cinematic goings-on.

It wasn't possible to watch the video screens and the band 
simultaneously, which was frustrating at times.  Tool isn't the 
most animated of bands, but in lead singer Maynard James 
Keenen (sic) it has a genuine eccentric -- not to mention a 
potent, accomplished vocalist (oft referred to as the best 
singer in the hard rock arena) -- who served as a focal point.  
Most, if not all, frontmen actually get out in front of the 
band; Keenen (sic) stayed on a riser behind Jones and 
bassist Justin Chancellor, and spent most of the show facing 
stage left, where drummer Danny Carey did his elaborate, 
elemental percussion thing.

Keenen (sic), whose shaved head sported a thick black stripe 
from the base of his skull all the way around to his chin, 
stripped down to a pair of black briefs early on, during Tool 
favorite "Stinkfist," a wondrously cathartic slab of stomping 
angst.  He'd strap on a guitar from time to time, but mostly 
writhed and shouted in place, while Jones and Chancellor 
comported themselves: heads down, minimal body 
movement, fingers flying.

Tool wasn't afraid to jam, either, which it did at several 
points -- most notably in one of the set closers, "Triad," in 
which the band was joined by keyboardist Mike Patton 
(formerly of Faith No More) and drummer John Stanier 
(formerly of Helmet) of opening band Tomahawk for a head-
spinningly percussive workout.

For all the terrifying visions and bleakly worded, decay-
obsessed, grinding music, Tool's performance actually had an 
upward trajectory, spiritually speaking.  The onscreed images 
incorporated more color and light as the show went on, and 
the series of banners that unfuled from the ceiling toward the 
end showed a human figure progressing from a skeleton to a 
creature of luminescence.  Tool departed after and 
unexpected and really quite disarmingly sweet group hug -- 
preceded by Keenen's (sic) evidently heartfelt thanks to the 
crowd for "coming and sharing."

"Hopefully," said the normally taciturn singer in the longest 
stage speech of the night, "we've left you inspired, healed 
and horny."

Posted to t.d.n: 09/02/02 20:24:56