Tool show us at SAP Center that they’ve only gotten bigger & better with more time

ToolBy Mike Rosati //

Tool with Author & Punisher //
SAP Center – San Jose
January 14th, 2020 //

My first Tool show was at the Trocadero Transfer, a small SF club in the SoMa neighborhood that has been remodeled and renamed as The Grand.

It was 1993, and the band’s debut album Undertow had dropped several months earlier that year. My friend had been following the East Bay Express’ music column, which published a review of Tool’s 1992 EP Opiate. He picked up a cassette and we quickly became enamored, playing the snot out of it on every road trip we took together.

Unfortunately, we mistimed that show at the Trocadero Transfer and missed Failure’s opening set. The room was packed so we had to find a spot at the very back of the venue. And although we couldn’t see through the crowd from where we stood, we noticed that there was a trash can along the back wall. With little time to think, we turned it upside down, climbed atop of it and grabbed onto the fire sprinkler pipe. For us, that seemed to make all the difference, providing an amazing view of the room as the audience moved like an undulating ocean of bodies when Tool finally took the stage. Frontman Maynard James Keenan appeared shirtless and donned a Mohawk ponytail braid while standing at the front of the stage under a spotlight. Since then, I have seen a lot of shows but nothing quite like the moshing that transpired that night.

Tool

Fast forward to Tool’s latest Bay Area stop at San Jose’s SAP Center, and things have changed quite a bit for the prog-metal titans. Compared to that first performance I witnessed almost 27 years ago, Keenan (vocals), Danny Carey (drums), Adam Jones (guitar) and Justin Chancellor (bass) are now selling out arenas all around the world with a massive lighting rig, immersive video backdrop and veil of strings at the front of the stage when they open with the title track on their fifth LP Fear Inoculum.

But unlike the quartet’s previous tours, Keenan was actually illuminated at different points during the show as he strutted across the raised platforms behind Jones and Chancellor in a leather jacket with a Puscifer logo, a pair of red plaid pants and another Mohawk (albeit this one was spiked). Jones, as usual, was an economy of movement but his guitar voluminous in sound while Carey’s drums have only grown more into an incredible shrine of percussion.

Tool have certainly come a long way since that December night at the Trocadero Transfer nearly three decades ago, but looking back now, I’m sure glad we found that trash can.

Setlist:
Fear Inoculum
Ænema
The Pot
Parabol
Parabola
Pneuma
Schism
Jambi
Vicarious
Descending

Encore:
Chocolate Chip Trip
Invincible
Stinkfist

Tool continue to melt minds on their latest tour

ToolBy Mike Rosati //

Tool with The Crystal Method //
SAP Center – San Jose
June 21st, 2017 //

With prog-metal giants Tool back on the road for a month-long trek across North America, my first experience at “The Shark Tank” (aka the SAP Center) in San Jose last Wednesday proved to be a memorable one.

After an early and sparsely attended set by big beat pioneers The Crystal Method, Tool hit the stage in standard formation as guitarist Adam Jones stood front left, bassist Justin Chancellor front right, drummer Danny Carey back right and vocalist Maynard James Keenan back left in the dark, sporting tactical assault gear that was replete with Puscifer rainbow logo stickers on his chest and knee pads.

The three-time Grammy winners haven’t released an album since 2006’s 10,000 Days, but they did debut new visuals on this latest tour, which ended with an epic, day-long event at Glen Helen Amphitheater out in San Bernadino, Calif., that also featured performances by Melvins, Fantômas, Clutch and Primus.

Set 1: The Grudge, Parabol, Parabola, Schism, Opiate, Ænema, Descending, Jambi, Third Eye, Forty-Six & 2

Set 2: Drum Solo, The Pot, Sweat, (-) Ions, Stinkfist