This picture taken with my camera phone during the song “10,000 Days”. The lasers were, I mean, I can’t even describe it. This is a debrief for the TOOL show. Sovereign Center Arena, Reading, PA. Show began at exactly 2110 hours on Monday 16 July 2007. Loe Jyons and I ditched Chesco at 1952 hours. We got out PA TPK ticket and rolled. Hit a stretch of TPK backed up but not catastrophically so. I was impressed at how nearly 98% of drivers maintained the English way, and got in one neat, orderly line and made it possible for Loe and I to be only 140 seconds late.
We rolled into the industrial sized ghost of Reading, PA at 2100 hours. Parked two blocks north of the arena and were within 50 yds. of the building when Tool rumbled into the building with the tsunami sized riff of “Jambi”. Lots of folks weren’t seated yet, and the security guy (long hair pulled back into a ponytail, black Ministry t-shirt and jeans) gave us a quick pat and let us in. He appeared more of a Tool fan than a ball buster. Ma Kettle scanned our Ticketmaster issued fun pass and we walked 20 feet, I shit you not, to our section. Tool had just treaded into the first stanza of that swirling, arousing bass line that hits about 2 minutes into the song. We grabbed our seats and got lost. Here is the complete set list. Minus feedback and a short break:
Stinkfist (extended version)
Forty Six and Two
Lost Keys (intro to. . .)
Wings for Marie (Part 1)
10,000 Days (Wings part 2)
Show ended at 2223. They played for about 2 hours and ten minutes. I’m going to back it up a year and explain to you why this show was so important to me. Let me say this: I was not a fan of Tool’s most recent album until about 48 hours ago.
When Ryan, a fellow Jarhead and full time Vanguardian who worked the 0500-0700 shift at the Malvern World Gym while I was there, passed me a burned copy of Tool’s 2006 release “10,000 Days”, I was way grateful. It was, of course, a full WEEK before the disc was released to the public. Naturally I pumped it right away. And as some of you may have guessed, I was not happy. That is the entire moral of this story. I learned from my own harsh judgement and impatience. This is the way Wee Willy works.
In 1993 a young lady named Cate played a song for me over the phone. It was a school night and I had no chance of getting to her house for some more make-out “lessons” (yes, I had a girl offer to teach me how to kiss, and I accepted). Wait a second, does that mean I was such a bad kisser that I rated lessons? Ouch. So Cate plays for me the end of Tool’s “Sober” their March 1993 single from the “Undertow” record. And I tell her I don’t like the guy’s voice. It’s not “metal” enough. She said it was smart kids’ metal, and I’d never understand. I’m kidding, she told me to buy their first CD and then reevaluate. So I did. I rode my bike from Havertown north on Eagle Rd., banged a hard left
(west x northwest) onto the bus route, and flew to Sam Goody that Saturday night. Picked up “Opiate” and was caught way off guard by the menacing figure on the cover (I was 14 shut up!). When Opiate found it’s way into my CD player at home, I was flown the buck away. It was the most unique sound I had ever heard. I was a Tool right away. And on it went. Undertow, they’re first full-length record was released, and then right after I graduated high school AEnima was released, to the tune of “Stinkfist”, titled “Track One” by the censors at MTV. Because, honestly, a song about fisting could be hidden easily by Tool, but they named it something creepy and uncharacteristically obvious anyway. So with that CD they cement themselves as the standard of alternative metal. And from their popularity bands like Deftones and Mudvayne have gotten attention. Well, in late 200 they release Salival, a live CD/DVD package that tripped me out when I heard it. And the website became a haven for weird art and intellectual stuff and they got huge and awesome. “Lateralus” was released that spring. It was full of good songs but also full of more weird interludes and space eating feedback tracks that I never cared for. Now, having seen the show, I know what the band has been doing. They have treated the last three albums, AEnima, Lateralus, and 10,000 Days as straight up journeys. Each CD represents the travels of the band, and it’s members, and can even be taken as mimicry of one of their concerts. Just as the show took me from Alpha to Omega and beyond, the Cd’s they have released, that I chalked up beneath Undertow in quality, were simply beyond my comprehension. I, a self professed True Tool Fan, just didn’t get it. Now I do.
I always knew that this band was special. Beyond Maynard’s voice and the cohesion between the musicians, it was obvious that something was at work here. Until the World Wide Web was in nearly every house, it was very, very hard to learn much about the band. Pictures of the the members were terribly hard to find. Interviews almost nonexistent. Lyrics and photos not printed on the inside of CD jackets. Who were these guys? I would ask myself. Hardly any videos have been released (I abhor the music video channels anyway), minimal airplay, and no movie-soundtrack releases led me to believe that these guys worked just as hard to maintain an unparalleled degree of privacy as they did to create the absolute TOPS in heavy music. So I said “well, let them be snobs and fill their records with interlude tracks that sound like crying babies and feedback and other shit that does not lend to the record”. I could not have been more wrong. TOOL is the thinking man’s metal. The “fuck you” of punk music delivered with the sonic ferocity of ever progressing musicianship that leans very much towards the “metal” side of things and wrapped in the sly grin only someone who is much, much smarter than you can maintain while holding back the biggest secret of the day. TOOL defies anything and everything, save for themselves and their fans. TOOL relies very heavily upon the loyalty of their listeners in order to continue the journey both as individual human animals and as the complimentary foursome they become when they plug in and pierce our ears. I could sit here and tell you how I felt during every song and what the lasers looked like and what the big screen showed during my favorite song of the night (Forty Six and Two) but that would do you no good, and it would likely appear as though I was masturbating with every keystroke. Instead, I will tell you this: I will try very hard to be patient with musicians as they take new directions and alter the sounds they work very hard to create, and I will never, EVER miss a TOOL show again.
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