I don’t get to go to a lot of shows these days. Part of it is my location, sure; Toledo gets maybe a handful of good tours a year, and I only know of a couple of good local bands, but it’s also because I’m an old man and a responsible adult, with a full-time job and a wife and kid and house and whatnot. I’m not complaining, of course, but I do enjoy concerts a great deal, so I guess going to one every year or so makes it that much better. It helps when the bands playing end up being the likes of Between The Buried And Me and, in this case, the almighty Tool. For this show, I recruited my old concert-going buddy Raybob (not his given name, at least not fully, but I’ve called him that as long as I can remember, so we’ll roll with it), whom I hadn’t gotten to see in nearly a year, and we rolled out to the Huntington Center.
I hadn’t actually been to the Huntington Center before, even though I live in Toledo, mostly because I haven’t gone to any of the Toledo Walleyes‘ hockey games. From what I hear, the place is actually pretty successful as arenas go, which is nice. After paying ten bucks to park in a lot several blocks from the arena (it was fifteen a half-block closer – score!), we hoofed it to the arena and made it in good time. From there, we got in with little hassle and headed up the stairs to the second level. After wandering the entire perimeter because we misread a sign, we discovered that the staircase to the top level was, in fact, right behind us where we had first come up to the floor, and feeling a bit silly we climbed once more.
Now, tickets for this concert had gone fast, and when I was initially ordering them, my browser had fucked up and I lost the original set of tickets that I had reserved, so I wound up having to buy separate tickets in totally different sections. We were hoping that they wouldn’t be checking tickets too closely, but when we got to the top floor we discovered a bar area that was at the opposite end of the arena facing the stage, and it had some tables and chairs around the outside. So, we secured one of those and decided, fuck it, we’ll just hang out here. This turned out to be a pretty good decision, once we determined that they weren’t going to kick us out of our seats, because we had a nice view of the entire stage, and the sound was pretty good.
I was a bit surprised when there were two drumkits set up on the stage (Danny Carey’s set notwithstanding, as I assumed it was the big tarp-covered object behind the other drumkits). I knew Intronaut were opening, but I wasn’t expecting another band. There was a brief period of time while I tried to remember if Intronaut actually had two drummers (I’m not really a fan of Intronaut’s style of post-metal, so I’m not at all familiar with them), and then Knife took the stage. I had never heard of them, but their mix of stoner rock, blues, punk, and metal certainly appealed to my sensibilities. They were an odd choice to open for Tool, considering their style, but they did a hell of a job, and the crowd responded quite favorably to their massive, swaggering riffs and copious amount of groove.
Intronaut followed, and to be honest, I wasn’t expecting much out of them. As I mentioned, I’m just not a fan of their musical style, and a lack of familiarity with them probably didn’t do me any favors either. They were good, for what they were, especially drummer Danny Walker, who was an absolute beast amid the shifting tempos and time signatures. But ultimately, I was a little bored by them, and when their set ended I was ready for Tool.
To say that I had high expectations for Tool would be to greatly understate things. I’ve been a fan of Tool for quite some time, and I tried to land tickets to see them back when Lateralus was released, only to find that they had sold out even though Raybob and our friend Josh and I were the third group of people in line when the box office opened. So, this was an event ten years in the making. The lights dimmed, and the stage’s backdrop lit up, accompanied by a rhythmic pulsing not unlike a heartbeat amplified to fill an arena. This went on for a couple of minutes, and then the band took the stage and launched into ‘Hooker With A Penis‘. This is one hell of a way to kick off a concert, let me tell you, and they fucking destroyed it. They followed up with ‘Jambi‘, complete with awesome Adam Jones talkbox guitar solo, and then used ‘(-) Ions’ to segue into ‘Stinkfist‘, during which the video screens were filled with remixed footage from the video.
After ‘Stinkfist‘, they blasted their way through ‘Ticks & Leeches’, ‘Pushit’, and ‘Schism‘, slowing things down for the moody ‘Intension‘, which kept the whole crowd singing. I kept trying to figure out what Maynard had around his waist, but it was difficult to tell from my vantage point because he stayed on the drum riser the entire show, out of the spotlights; it looked to me like a sword, but I later found out that it was a nightstick because Maynard was dressed like a cop. They followed ‘Intension‘ with ‘Forty Six & Two‘, my personal favorite Tool song, and it was certainly an incredible experience for me, but they upped the ante with ‘Lateralus‘. Before the song, I could see roadies assembling a drumkit int he middle of the stage, and in the middle of ‘Lateralus‘, they brought out Intronaut drummer Danny Walker for an amazing dueling drum jam with Danny Carey. Some kind soul captured the whole thing and posted it on YouTube:
It was impressive, and I liked that they let him finish out the song with the band. After ‘Lateralus‘, there was a lengthy interlude featuring the light show going full-bore over a heavy electronic humming, and then the band returned to play their final tune of the night, ‘Ænema‘. And then, just like that, it was over, and as the lights came up, we turned to one another and grinned, slightly delirious and fully exhilarated. Now, I’m hearing that Tool had played ‘Parabol/Parabola’ at some dates, and ‘The Pot‘ at others, as a lead-in for ‘Ænema’, and it would have been nice to have gotten either track, but in the end, I really can’t complain. Tool were amazing, and worth the wait.