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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tool: The Live Experience

Arco Arena Sacramento, CA 7-13-2010

I've been to a hefty number of concerts, mostly in my 20's, but I've never had an experience like the one I had last night when the lights went out at Arco Arena, standing just 10 rows from the stage as the crowd ignited in anticipation of the sonic assault we were about to receive. I've never been that close for a big show like that, although I have seen Cake from just a few feet at a "secret gig" they did back in '98. Like many of Tool's songs, a slow rise of buzzing energy was building up inside, waiting for the music to start when Tool took the stage and launched into Third Eye, which set the mood and tone for the evening. They wasted no time moving on to Jambi, its frantic intro sending the crowd into a fist-pumping, foot-stomping frenzy (myself included). For a band who releases an album every 5 years, they play tight and fierce, as though they never lose the momentum from their last outing.

After a brief interlude song, the intro notes to Stinkfist, one of my favorites, began and that is when I was hit with that wave of bliss that rushes over you at a live show, only 3 songs in. The video played on the giant screens behind the band, giving fans a visual treat to accompany the songs that had us all in a daze. Anyone who knows about Tool and has seen their videos knows that their imagery is nearly as bold as their sound, mostly consisting of stop-motion animation, and seeing those images on the screens behind the band during their show takes the experience to another level. Next up was Vicarious, which begins with an intro that epitomizes the undeniable signature sound of Tool, and is another of my favorites of theirs. A couple of ho-hum tracks went by, Eon Blue Apocalypse and The Patient, before Intolerance, the first song off their first album and coincidentally, the first song I put on the new Tool mix I burned yesterday for the ride there. Next up was Schism, which also begins with one of those unmistakable intros, this one with a rolling bassline and the line "I know the pieces fit, cuz I watched them fall away", the video playing with footage so bizarre you get lost in trying to figure out what you're looking at. The last song before intermission was Forty-Six & 2 which they played flawlessly, another of my favorites.

The band members left the stage after Forty-Six & 2 while a bunch of crew members brought out a 2nd drum set out towards the edge of the stage. The drummer and bassist from openers Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine, led by former Dead Kennedys frontman, took the stage and launched into a very extended jam version of Lateralus, after an improvised bass jam between the JBGSM and Justin from Tool. Before launching into ├ćnima, the final song of the evening which basically talks about the end of the world and Los Angeles being flushed away, Maynard said "It's all going to be alright." Maynard left the stage with a big wave after the song ended, and Danny Carey (drummer) showed off his Kings jersey to which he received a huge roar from the crowd before he, Adam (guitar) and Justin (bass) walked out onto the stage and waved to the crowd, all with huge smiles on their face.

There were a couple of songs I would have liked to hear, such as The Grudge and Sober, but overall this was an amazing night. I have only seen Tool once before, back in 1998, so I can't make much of a valid gauge of this performance against many others but I can say that they sounded like they're ready to go make another masterpiece and you better believe I'll be seeing them on their next outing.

Complete setlist:
Timothy Leary Intro
Third Eye (extended)
(-) Ions
Stinkfist (extended)
Eon Blue Apocalypse
The Patient
Intolerance (extended)
Schism (extended)
Forty Six & 2
Lateralus (extended with drummer and bassist from JBGSM)

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