I’ll be honest, I never got into TOOL and I honestly couldn’t ‘t tell you why. Something about them has just always turned me off. Whether it’s the four-hour-long songs (okay, I’m being a dramatic brat when I say that but you get what I’m trying to say), or vocalist Maynard James Keenan’s just overall existence (okay, again, being a bit dramatic and bratty but he just seems to be a lot and has a bit of a reputation), something about TOOL overall just has never hooked me. All of that being said, there’s no denying the power and influence of this band so, of course, I jumped on the chance to cover the show.
I wasn’t surprised at all when I got held up at security as I tried to get into the Target Center. Although frustrated being that I had all of the right credentials to bring my computer in, the warnings from every security worker I passed regarding even trying to take a phone out during the show told me all I needed to know. TOOL is notorious for having super stringent rules and bringing a phone out during one of their performances is like a number one no-no so I wasn’t surprised that trying to bring a computer in was an issue but, thankfully, I got through with the help of the amazing staff at The Target Center and got all set up in time to catch the end of opening act The Acid Helps’ set.
It says a lot about a band to be chosen to open up a show for Tool, let alone a portion of a tour or a full tour but, honestly, The Acid Helps’ music said all that needed to be said about this band. Sure, when you dig into this band a bit you may realize that there are some very few degrees of separations between Tool and this band (Tim Dawson- vocals/ guitar for The Acid Helps- has played with members of Tool and other legendary acts in the past) but, even reading that didn’t change the fact that they are one hell of a band. A little bit of a grunge influence mixed with mesmerizing musicianship and a little bit of a sludgy vibe, their music was the perfect sound to set the tone for what was to come.
Beyond their distinct sound and style was their undeniable stage presence and ability to banter with the audience. Sure, this was a giant arena tour but something about the way the band joked with the audience and thanked everyone for coming early made it feel a bit more like a club show than a big arena show. There were also small details about this band that I feel many arena-playing bands forget. Although small on stage, the presence of lava lamps scattered throughout their set-up just added a little feeling of intimacy to their larger-than-life sound.After what felt like a super short change over, it was time for the one and only TOOL. With a mostly transparent fabric concealing the stage, images from the various albums that TOOL has put out swirled around as if floating in mid-air. A cool effect and an epic way to grab my attention, I found the almost 3-D effect that the nearly sheer curtain had on the moving artwork. Whether a fan or not, this visual effect combined with very artistic and almost ambient sounds that kicked the show off had me super excited to see what would come with this live show. I honestly didn’t even notice that vocalist Maynard James Keenan, wasn’t on stage when the lights went down and the band kicked into their set but a roar of applause that ran through the crowd like a wave of excitement made Maynard’s entrance electrifying.
The absolutely stunning imagery and deafening sounds were a constant throughout TOOL’s twelve-song set and honestly, it’s just something that must be seen. There’s no way my words will do their live show justice and, even if pictures were allowed, I don’t think that would really give you the full effect. The layers of moving colors were like the layers of music floating through the air. I know that sounds so cheesy and dramatic but, as not the biggest fan of this band, I found myself completely captivated by it all and getting completely lost in the music.
Full disclosure, prior to Sunday night’s performance, I had always judged TOOL for their no cell phone policy and although I still think the strictness of it all is a bit intense, it was nice to watch the show without the bright lights of thousands of phones. I will say the constant movement of security up and down the stairs trying to catch people on their phones was distracting at times but I don’t think many other people noticed it. I was going to try and play the game of “how many people will get kicked out because they tried to get a photo or even just pull their phone out to text” but I honestly kept getting distracted by the band.
There’s an air of mystery around this band. I know that a big part of that mystery is Maynard himself just because he’s just a bit quirky (and I mean that in the best possible way) but there was also this sense of mystery around the band. Maybe it was the semi-sheer curtain concealing the stage throughout the performance or the way none of the members spoke between tracks and literally just powered through their set with a sense of professionalism and undeniable talent– whatever it was, I truly liked the edge that this mystery seemed to give the concert overall and it made me not want to miss a single second of the performance.
I will never be a huge TOOL fan. It’s just not my style. The songs are a bit too lengthy and I find them a bit hard to follow at times. That being said, seeing the musical genius that is this band live mixed with the absolutely stunning imagery that comes with their shows had me hooked. Sure, you won’t see me blaring TOOL in the car when driving to and from shows but you may see me at the next TOOL show.