Tool Satisfies Fans During Their Sold Out Show At The Blue Cross Arena
Nothing compares to going to see your favorite band play live, especially one that has been claimed your heart for almost a quarter of a century. I am referring to the one and only Tool, who has been my personal soundtrack for a large chunk of my life. Among many other things, this band has taught me patience since the waiting time between albums can be rather lengthy; in fact it is going on eleven years since their last studio album, 10,000 Days, but the wait has always proved to be worth it.
When a tour announcement was made a few short months ago, I chose the date and venue that I would be able to attend, and I positioned myself at my computer at 10 a.m. sharp the day the tickets went on sale. As quick as I could, I snatched up two tickets without a single care where the seats were; the show sold out in a matter of minutes. Now would it be possible for me to cover the show for Shutter 16 and take photos from the photo pit? Amazingly I was able to say yes!
This is by far not the first time I would be seeing Tool play live, but honestly every time is like the first time anyway and it has been five long years since I had seen them last. This is also not the first time I have traveled to see them, so on this long drive of about eight hours I had time to reflect on how Tool has had an impact on my life. It was around the early summer of 1993 when I first saw the music video for “Sober” on MTV’s Headbangers Ball; I was immediately hooked and ran out the next day to purchase Undertow, which was released earlier that year. I soon needed more and got the EP they released in March 1992, Opiate.
It would only be a three year wait for the next album, Aenima, which was released in September of 1996. Tool’s original bassist, Paul D’Amour left the band and Justin Chancellor would immediately take his place. In November of that same year came the opportunity for me to see them perform live at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City. Being a fan of this band was so elusive, as there were hardly any photos of the band members, and their videos were stop motion creations by Adam Jones. Catching a live performance was the only way to even see what the band members actually looked like. In December of 2000, fans were offered the limited edition box set, Salival, which held me over just fine. To this day that live version of “Pushit” is my go to song.
Then on May 15, 2001 Lateralus was released. The album was immediately met with commercial success as it debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 Chart, marking the first time since the band first formed in 1990 that an album charted that high that fast. On the same day as its release, Tool started a world tour and on May 20, they made their first stop to the New York City area to play at the Hammerstein Ballroom before embarking on the European leg of the tour. No one knew that by the time they returned to New York City to do two sold out shows at Madison Square Garden on October 1st and 2nd, just how much the world would change after the September 11th attacks. The shows went on and for some the healing process began. The tour in general was very spiritual and I truly enjoyed seeing the artwork by visionary artist, Alex Grey, featured on the large video screens and backdrop of the stage.
The following year the online community of Toolarmy was created in July 2002. I met so many wonderful people through the message boards and chat rooms, and before we knew it we were able to meet in person at shows I attended all over the North East while Tool was still touring for Lateralus. I even had an adventure that took me across the county to meet up with our Toolarmy brothers and sisters at a Tool Gathering in Las Vegas in August 2003, where we had the pleasure of also spending quality time with tabla master Aloke Dutta and artist Chet Zar. I forged friendships I still have and cherish to this day.
Almost five years to the day, in May 2006, 10,000 Days was released, and to no surprise it debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 Chart. Another massive tour followed, along with more opportunities for me to see them live.
Now I find myself in 2017 with no new fix of Tool’s music. While, like all fans, I long for more, I am still content with the music I have and also enjoy all of the other projects the band members partake in. And while the wait continues, Tool has done short tours almost annually since 2009. Talk continues, and posts are made on the band’s official website, that they have been creating new music in Danny’s loft and an album is not too far off in the future.
So here I am now, in Rochester, NY on May 30, 2017 at the Blue Cross Arena preparing myself for an experience I have only dreamed of. Tool will be playing to a sold out show with thirteen thousand people in attendance, and I will be in the photo pit to capture the first song. The venue was filled to the brim with fans of all ages and from all walks of life. It was fun to spot the man in a concert t-shirt dating back to the Lateralus tour, who likely wore a business suit earlier in the day, next to the high school student who was busting at the seams to have their first opportunity to see Tool live, surrounded by a sea of hardcore fans.
The warm up act for this leg of the tour is a band out of Oakland, CA, the Once And Future Band. Formed in 2013 this progressive jazz rock band is made up of Joel Robinow (keyboards/vocals), Raze Regal (guitar), Eli Eckert (bass/vocals) and Raj Ojha (drums). They had a melodic groove and were very smooth and tight as a bad. The audience was rather chill during their performance but eagerly clapped and cheered after each of the songs they played. Before their last song, Robinow was so comfortable he said, “We are so happy to be here and make friends with everyone. We’re looking forward to coming to dinner at your houses.” Judging by the reaction I think quite a few of them would have been happy to let them chill with them for a while.
During the intermission, the venue continued to fill up, every seat in the house was occupied as the stage was being prepared for the main act. Eventually the house lights dropped, the stage was dimly lit, and one by one Maynard James Keenan (vocals), Adam Jones (guitar), Justin Chancellor (bass) and Danny Carey (drums) all took to the stage to a screaming crowd. They immediately kicked off the night with “The Grudge” and as soon as it was over it was time for me to leave the photo pit and find my seat to enjoy the rest of the show as one of the elated, cheering, dancing fans.
After they performed “Schism,” Keenan talked about how divided we are as a country right now and how we need to stop blaming one side or the other. He stressed this by also saying, “Fear, if you are ignorant, fear works, so educate yourselves because divided we fall.” They continued to play song after song with a different amazing visual to accompany it on the huge backdrop screen behind them, all while equally amazing light shows sometimes gave a 3D effect.
With all this energy pouring from the stage, after “Forty-Six & 2” the stage went black, with only Carey’s drum set remaining illuminated in blue, and the word Intermission appeared in red as well as a stop clock with a countdown of twelve minutes. Some took advantage of the time and others stayed in place not wanting to miss a thing, the twelve minutes went by fast and Carey’s drum solo swiftly followed it. Before they performed “Sweat,” Keenan said, “Thank you very much for coming out! See you again soon!” Something everyone in house was hoping to be true as they cheered so loud it was deafening.
Tool put on an energetic and powerful performance. While they covered songs from all of their releases; there were no stones left unturned. I left the show, along with many others, with a smile on my face feeling very satisfied. Whether you have seen them before or not, this is an experience not to be missed. They will be on tour till June 24 here in the US, so definitely catch them if you can.
Forty-Six & 2
Danny’s Drum Solo
See full gallery of the night here.
Tool’s Remaining Tour Dates:
Photographer/writer: Diane Woodcheke (http://www.dwoodcheke.com/)
Venue: Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, NY (http://www.bluecrossarena.com/)
Performances by: Tool (https://www.toolband.com) &
Once And Future Band (https://www.facebook.com/OnceAndFutureBand/)