Two nights ago, on March 12 2014, the seminal post-industrial, hard rock band Tool, ended their two night stint at the famed Bill Graham Auditorium. Tool, played two sold out shows in the heart of downtown San Francisco, and although the band is famous for their aggressive lyrics connecting with the lonely and depressed, there were no fans seen with a somber demeanor.
Thousands of hard rock lovers piled into the auditorium creating a river of black that extended well beyond the property line for the Bill Graham. Extra security was on site, ready for any and all outcomes that the perceived ‘rowdy’ crowd might provoke.
Having been nearly 4 years since Tool’s last visit to the Bay Area, the anticipation of their arrival on stage was almost unbearable for some. When the lights finally dimmed and the shadows of drummer, Danny Carey and guitarist Adam Jones appeared on stage the audience roared with praise. Switching up their set from the previous night, the band started off their 1st set with ‘Hooker with a Penis’ from the Aenema album, followed by ‘Vicarious’ from 10,000 Days.
With a number of lights bathing the stage in color and highlighting each band member equally, front man Maynard James Keenan took refuge in the shadows. Armed with a mic, a megaphone and a mohawk, Maynard shuffled his upper body back and forth to the beat while keeping his feet firmly planted in one place. Plowing through Tool classics like ‘Schism’ and ‘Sober’ with great intensity only to end with ‘Lateralus’ before the 12 minute intermission.
After a well needed break which gave everyone time to hydrate (liquor up) and or relieve themselves, the countdown hit 10 seconds. As the crowd chanted down from 10 to the start of the second set, it was like a whole new kind of new years eve. Once the clock hit zero, the lights dimmed again and the crowd cheered with anticipation. Slowly a shadowy figure emerged and took his place at the drums.
With the glow of a laptop illuminating Danny, a digital drumbeat started. After a few minutes this digital beat was met with the real life beat of Danny’s drumset. What followed next was close to 10 minutes of Tool’s cover of King Crimson’s ‘B’Boom.’ Towards the end of the solo, the rest of Tool appeared on stage, and they Jetted off into ‘Jambi.’ The background LCD panels turned red and black and both Maynard and Justin Chancellor matched their outfits to fit the more aggressive set.
Working mostly from Aenema for the remainder of the show, Tool ripped through 'Forty-Six & 2' only to land on 'Aenema'. Lazers and Fog shot around the auditorium with no rhyme or reason and spliffs were passed around freely. Some may say that Tool fans are a bunch of angry degenerates who only want to hurt people, but all I saw was a collection of super happy people sharing the experience of an amazing show together. In the congregation of Tool, All are family.
Closing out the night with 'Stinkfist', Tool unleashed an explosion of confetti all over the first dozen rows of people and Maynard emerged from the shadows for the first and only time of the night.
Tool will continue their tour throughout the month of March and then will head back home. If you missed this round of shows, fret not, for towards the end of their second set Maynard James Kennan proclaimed, ‘We Will Be Back!’ Hopefully, this time they won’t wait another 4 years.