Thursday, October 26, 2006

Up with Tool, Down with Tools

I have to admit it: I was disappointed by Tool’s 2006 release 10,000 Days. After unleashing an alluring and groundbreaking album with Lateralus in 2001, I didn’t expect the band to take a detour back into the trodden lands of modern rock. Following epics like “The Patient” (Lateralus), I felt songs such as “The Pot” (10,000 Days) served as little than radio-friendly airs or possibly LP filler. (BTW: I so predicted “The Pot” would be Tool’s next big popular market sensation.) However, after attending the last show of Tool’s fall stateside tour at Nassau Coliseum, I renewed my respect for one of America’s greatest rock ensembles.

Tool puts on a great show—period. Whether the band chooses to aggrandize the visual or aural side of their supple package, the guys know how to keep a stadium crowd entertained. On past tours--most notably during Lateralus--Tool tricked out the stage ala scrims adorned with holistic art work and giant plasma screens broadcasting interpretable images. At Nassau Coliseum, they scaled back the eye candy and concentrated on epic art rock tunes, making even “The Pot” impress with an alacrity not previously revealed to me by listening to the album cut. The newer songs, especially the title track, stood ground with classics such as “AEnema,” “Forty Six & 2,” “Stinkfist” and “Schism.” My only concern after witnessing the concert is a repeat of the modern rock cycle, which now, thank God, seems to be a rabid dog begging to be shot in the head. How much more mediocre Chevelle ditties can a person take?

No doubt Tool had a big part in creating a fan base for the harder edge style of these clone bands and the airwaves dedicated solely to this kind of drivel, but it’s hardly the band’s fault that these amateurs never learned to play their instruments. Practically anyone can coax a chug, chug out of their Les Paul, but Tool’s Adam Jones can do that and carry an acrobatic lead line in 5/4 time, all while looking stylishly disaffected. Therein lays the problem: they make it look too easy. Well, scratch that, on earlier tours they made it look too pretty. I think young fans figured if they threw enough glitz and glam into their stage show, they could pass as a play-alike act. Now that Tool has scaled back the visual aspect of their performance, I’m afraid younger wannabes will take this as a cue not only to copy the band (it may sound hard, but it looks easy), but also dump the showmanship attitude. That’s a lose/lose situation, considering most modern rock bands have difficulty playing the three-chord traditional structure of their compositions.

At Nassau Coliseum, singer Maynard James Keenan’s lizard-like gyrations, bassist Justin Chancellor’s head thrash and drummer Danny Carey’s precision skin thumps served as the only human movement on stage. Projections of older stop-motion animation Tool videos along with rapidly changing light patterns behind and underneath the band nary distracted from the bombast of the music. I don’t know about all of you guys, but I wouldn’t pay $50 to see a band practically stand still among some lasers if the members couldn’t slam on their instruments. That’s the threat here. Say “yes” to Tool and “no” to all the hard rock tools. Do it or we’re facing another 10 years aural punishment.


Blogger Kara said...

"rabid dog...shot in the head"
whoa, Julie is no joke! Wonderful wordsmithery! Love, Kara

3:33 AM  

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