Tool brought their unique show back to Colorado this week with two nights at Red Rocks. They brought their trademark progressive rock/metal with an industrial twist and they brought their mind-altering lights and visual aids. They also brought an attitude about cameras that I have never seen at Red Rocks. ‘No cameras of any kind, violators may be ejected’ was in red on the venue’s website. “No cameras aloud inside” said the parking attendant. ‘No cameras at band’s request’ signs were posted on white sheets of paper along the ramps leading into the venue. Ramps that were backed up down into the parking lot because they were searching people for cameras. 45-min lines to get into Red Rocks is stupid…and this camera policy was stupid. That being said, they made up for it with another amazing show.
While tailgating we met some girls who had hula hoops. They made a joke about getting their ass kicked by hula hooping at a Tool show to which I replied with a joke about them being at the wrong show (Widespread Panic had just played 3 nights here). But the more we talked about it, the more similarities we found between Tool and Panic shows and Tool and Panic fans. Obviously the music is much different. Obviously the Tool fans are more likely to wear black than tie-dye. But there is something of a fanaticism to each band.
Both Tool and Panic fans will go great lengths to see their band live. They will travel. They will pay (upwards of $150-200 a ticket). If they play it, they will come. And it doesn’t seem to matter what these bands play. It’s never about the setlist. Panic can get up there and jam on the same song for a half hour and nobody seems to mind. Tool can play the same 10 songs every time they come to town and no one will even notice (or care if they do). Is this because these bands don’t have a bad song? Is it because the fans are too fucked up to even realize what’s being performed? Maybe. But I think it’s more about the experience. It’s as much about the experience as it is about the music.
I can’t talk to the Panic experience; never seen them. But I can talk to the Tool experience. I am not one of these uber-Tool fans, so I think I can report as an outsider. Tool have everything, especially for a male audience. They are bad-asses. Just look at Maynard…he doesn’t give a fuck about anything! And his bald silhouette against the backdrop of lights has become a symbol for being a badass. This appeals to the fratboys & jocks because they think they can relate to him. It appeals to the geeky/wimpy kid or cubicle worker because they wish they could be him.
Then you have the visuals. Tool bring a light and projection show that even makes the one sober guy in the audience feel like he’s trippin’ balls. It’s a spectacle that will appeal to your senses no matter what type of chemcial you have ehanced or dulled them with.
Then there’s the music. It’s loud. It’s damn loud (unlike the lackluster performance at Mile High Music Festival last year). You can feel it in your bones. But it’s also intelligent. These guys are singing about some dark shit…they get fists pumping, they people screaming and moving and all this is happening to lyrics such as “I’ve been wallowing in my own confused and insecure delusions”!
That being said, I don’t think any of this is a negative thing. I was singing along, I was pumping my fist and I was screaming with 9,000 others when they ended the night with one of my favorites, Aenema.
So, Tool put on a Tool show at Red Rocks and I don’t think anyone was disappointed. I left there more amped than I have been after a show in a long time. I paid over $100 for the show and I feel I got my money’s worth. But now, a couple days later I see the setlist and realize it’s not much different than the last few times I saw them. I feel like I’ve been dupped. I feel like Tool sucked me in, tore me up, spit me out and left me believing I had just seen something completely original, only to sober up and realize I’ve seen it all before…4 times now! That might explain the camera rule…they don’t want you to remember!
* pics taken with iPhone