What can I say about Tool that hasn’t been said before? They are giants of the industry, masters of their craft, unwilling leaders in the existential psychedelic pantheon but more importantly…they are just 4 humans.
They sold out 2 shows at the enormous Staples Center which is pretty incredible when you consider it had been 13 years since their last record “10,000 Days”. A lot has changed in that time, the way people consume media these days with streaming service, live concert ticket sales at an all time low causing several big festivals to fade away and the instant gratification you get from having everything available all the time in an instant. Yet somehow the album toppled the Taylor Swift for the #1 album spot!
There were very strict rules in place at this concert, signs everywhere and constant announcements over PA to put away your cell phones and no photography or filming would be allowed. I was lucky enough to granted a photo pass for the event, however, right before their last song, Maynard speaks to the crowd “Los Angeles…you’ve been fantastic. You may now pull out your cell phones, I know you are dying to share this, check your email whatever, thank you…security stand down!” at first it seemed that everyone in the crowd followed his orders and started recording as they played their last song of the night “Stinkfist” but halfway through the song it seemed like everyone was content to put their phones away and continue to enjoy the show which honestly was inspiring.
The set-list itself was full of some of their strongest hits including “Parabola”, “Aenema”, “Schism”, “The Pot”, “Vicarious”, “Forty Six & Two” but also some of the newer tracks like “Fear Inoculum”, “Invincible”, “Chocolate Chip Trip” and “Pneuma”. The stage production itself was one of the more elaborate ones I have seen in a long time, reminding me just how big of a deal Tool has become. A feathery curtain was in front of the band adding a mysterious element to all the insane lighting but was later opened up during the climax of “Parabola”. There were lasers, gigantic lcd screens and a huge metal logo that would move around throughout the songs.
The sound was incredible. Usually for large arena shows there tends to be too much bass and a wear hallow-ness from band but whoever is in charge of their front of house is fully aware and they spare no expense. Everything was crystal clear. Overall this is an experience that no Tool fan should deny themselves. I am incredibly grateful to have not only been able to attend but having been invited to do so and hang with the band after the show…oh the after party…the band seems to know exactly how long to wait for the few punishers that snuck in to decide to bail. What was left was a who’s who of the music and entertainment industry. As I sat at the bar with my friends Raanen Bozzio and the boys from Intronaut, I looked around and saw legends from Billy Howerdel to Jon Theodore to Eddie Van Halen to Aquaman himself Jason Momoa. I couldn’t help but feel that I didn’t belong but fuck it… I was there and it was amazing. Cheers everyone!
Photos by Eddy Torres @RRBGPodcast