I’ll the first to admit that I’m a bit of a fanboy of Tool, and I was definitely a pretty big Primus fan back in the day (I mean, with a bass style like Les Claypool’s, how could I not?), so when I read that the two bands were going to be playing Bridgestone Arena, I did the logical thing and set a reminder on my phone for when to stop paying attention in stats class to buy tickets as they went on sale. I was a little excited.
The opening act didn’t do much for me at all, honestly. The band was named 3TEETH, and basically I thought that Rammstein was onstage. Three out of the four band members had that same Skrillex-style half-shaved head look, and some of the choruses were actually kind of funny in how edgy they attempted to be. One particular chorus used both F-bombs and “terrorism” in the same line, so you can kind of see where this image is going. Basically comprising of a drummer, a vocalist who was doing that thing that Trent Reznor does (the back and forth lurching thing), a keyboardist, and a guitarist, generally 3TEETH didn’t really captivate, and from what I gathered in the bathroom after their set, I wasn’t alone.
Then came Primus. The first time I saw them was this past summer in Philadelphia, and clearly they didn’t disappoint, as I was thrilled to be able to see them again. Led by the enigmatic and unique Les Claypool, the band started off with a personal favorite – “Those Damned Blue-Collared Tweekers.” My favorite thing about Primus live is that they have the musicality of a jam band – often stretching songs out to much greater lengths that the studio versions – while maintaining a sense of both psychedelia and their own unique “weird” factor. Highlights from the set include an extensive version of “Southbound Pachyderm” and the rager that is “Jerry Was a Race Car Driver.” Les Claypool also decided to bring out an electric double bass for a great rendition of “Mr. Kinkle.” If anything, Primus’ set only reassured the audience of their greatness in the world of weird music.
Seeing Tool was almost just as much a visually-intense experience as it was a musical one. As the band members collected themselves onstage, they started off the show with a great lengthy rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “No Quarter,” in typical fashion – they’ve been covering the song for years at this point. Finally, with no more of an introduction than the blistering Led Zeppelin cover, the backstage curtain dropped to reveal an extremely large, stage-wide screen with an almost religiously-styled seven-point star before bursting into “The Grudge” (a personal favorite, one I hoped that they would play).
You know those concerts you go to where every single song is absolute perfection? Yeah, this concert was one of those. Granted, I’m definitely a bit biased in my assessment, but even if you didn’t like the music, it would be difficult to say that the band doesn’t have top-notch performing skills; the four members seemed incredibly in sync with each other throughout the show. Maynard James Keenan didn’t say much in between songs, but the one time he did, it was for a very important political statement – announcing his endorsement of David Bowie for president.
What else can really be said for a band that is as honed-in to themselves as Tool? Visually, the concert was amazing as seen in the above taken from this tour. Tool have mastered the art of combining metal and psychedelia in a unique way, and as performers, they excel as leaving their audience shrouded in a cloud of mystery (Maynard James Keenan kind of stood in the dark by the drum set the entire time).