TOOL RULES! Madison Square Garden – 10/02/01

Filed under: Live Music — doktorjohn October 2, 2001 @ 2:24 pm

(Originally published in The Aquarian/East Coast Rocker)

The artistic and cultural phenomenon called “rock music” has ascended to a new and unprecedented level with the current tour of Tool, now performing around the country to promote their latest album, Lateralus. From their national debut on the “second stage” at Lollapalooza in the early 90’s to double sell-out of Madison Square Garden this year, Tool has emerged as not only the most successful, but also the longest surviving of the artistic super-heavy bands

As the lights went down at the beginning of Tool’s set, giant screens, four on stage, four more on the Spectra-Vision viewer hanging from the ceiling, lit up with the weirdly disturbing computer art now as closely identified with Tool as their music. One screen, a smaller version stood at stage-level and served as a backdrop to the silhouetted, crouching, spidery figure of mysterious lead vocalist, Maynard James Keenen. Pre-recorded ultra-deep, Tibetan monk throat-chant was heard prior to the first notes of opening number “The Grudge.” During the next two hours listeners were thrashed to “Stinkfist,” “Schism,” “Forty-six and 2,” “Pushit” and many more.

The screens displayed a vast fantasy kingdom of creepily humanoid and organic figures, many new creations but some from Tool’s groundbreaking videos. Now synchronized through the magic of computer animation, to Tool’s convulsive, cyclic music these offered glimpses into a nightmarish virtual reality—-a high-tech hellraising view of the creative mind of Tool.

Bass and drum rondos ominously built up a relentless, coordinated mantra upon which were imposed harsh, guitar and angry synthesizer melodies. Keenan’s’s beautifully controlled vocals preached an angry gospel of rebellion and independence, liberation and assertive self-expression. His tenor voice soared from soothing mellows to heights of rage. The music ranged from melodious, middle-eastern hooks to thumping industrial anthems. The crowd of young, fierce Tool devotees stood rather than sat, mesmerized by the rhythms, striving to sing along.

During a couple of brief interludes body-stocking-clad acrobats came on stage, then later dangled from the ceiling, echoing with their contortions the computer animated visuals of writhing, embryonic forms. Keenan played a little intellectual prank on his audience of would-be individualists by making them recite after him, then mocking them for it. The show ended with a resounding version of the title track, “Lateralus.” Then the mentally and emotionally spent crowd exited solemnly in a post-orgasmic state of enlightenment wrought by the mind of Tool.
Doktor John

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