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Tool pound out two sold-out nights at Bill Graham Civic

Tool_postPhoto by Kevin Raos // Written by Scotland Miller //

Tool with Failure //
Bill Graham Civic Auditorium – San Francisco
March 11th-12th, 2014 //

The Bay Area was visited last week by one of the most coveted live performance bands in existence. For two consecutive nights, the members of Tool blew away their fans with ear-splitting renditions and a laser-light show that would leave even the most seasoned of concert-goers totally dumbfounded. Their setlist has become a bit stagnant and has not evolved much since their previous trip through the bay in 2010. Perhaps this is due to the lack of a new release in almost a decade? With that being said, the show itself is in a constant state of change and makes each tour well worth waiting for. The setlist saw some minor changes after the first night but definitely rewarded the fans loyal enough to claw their way into both shows.

A band named Failure, from Los Angeles, opened each night and did a great job at making the crowd that much more anxious to see their most favorite of favorite bands on the planet. In the words of the guy outside standing in line next to me when asked by his friend if there was an opening act– “Who cares!?”

You haven’t really felt anticipation until you are amidst a crowd of a few thousand rabid and sometimes delirious Tool fans waiting for the show to begin. And when it does, you realize why you may have shelled out over $100 for the admission. The thumping heartbeat and voice of Timothy Leary began with what has come to be a welcomed opening sequence for these guys. “Think for yourself. Question authority.” That line echoed above screams of elation and the cries of suspense as squealy guitar feedback slowly built into the creepy grind of “Third Eye”. The set continued with two of their biggest hits, “Forty Six & 2”, followed by “Schism”, complete with extended jam sections perfected over their last few tours. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to hear one of those bits on “the new album”. The first set ended with “Pushit”, “Intension” and “Lateralus”, which created a trippy little cerebral journey for you to ponder during the break. I was exceedingly pleased to hear them play “Pushit” as I had yet to experience that song live and was unsure if they were ever going to add it to the catalog again.

The 12-minute countdown that was the intermission ended with Danny returning to the stage by himself and, well ya know, banging on those things called drums. As he so loves to do, he began his eight-minute drum solo with his undoubtedly limited edition, one-of-a-kind, uber-expensive modular synthesizer, which he used to interpret an obscure King Crimson song called “B’Boom” — a fitting title for the second set and the last four songs of the show.

“Jambi” started the swirl of the zombie-like pit that remained for the rest of the night as limbs were flailed and bodies were bashed around. After all hell had broken loose (as if it hadn’t already), the first words of “Opiate” creeped from Maynard’s voice, sending fans from the early days straight into the mosh. “Aenema” and “Stinkfist” closed out the show in the same way that a dad might close the door on a daughter’s new boyfriend: hard, loud, and in your face!

This time around, Tool brought with them a slew of mobile “screens” that shifted and moved around the stage, constantly changing position and orientation. I say “screens” because if you looked at them closely, they looked more like plastic chicken wire. That is to say that they were not solid — they were transparent when they were absent of graphics. At one point this “screen” dropped down in front of the stage and allowed images to be shown, basically superimposed over the band, all while still seeing the towering wall of graphics behind the stage. Incredible is a gross understatement — and you thought the 2Pac hologram at Coachella was cool? It’s no wonder that the balcony seats fill up before the floor.

Technology is at the forefront of everything we do in our lives, and Tool understand this. These guys go out of their way to put on a show for their fans. Some acts stand on stage, play their music and shine some lights in your face. Tool begs to differ. The next time they come to town, sell your iPad, sell your TV or sell your car if it gets you into the show!

March 11th Setlist:
Third Eye
Forty Six & 2
Schism
Pushit
Intension
Lateralus
(Intermission)
B’Boom
Jambi
Opiate
Aenema
Stinkfist

March 12th Setlist:
Hooker With a Penis
Vicarious
Schism
Sober
Intension
Lateralus
(Intermission)
B’Boom
Jambi
Forty Six & 2
Aenema
Stinkfist

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