Friday, February 4, 2011


Wednesday 3rd February, 2011.
Sidney Myer Music Bowl.

I’d been torturing myself all week, Undertow and Opiate screaming out of the car stereo as I yelled abuse at passers by for not being given the opportunity to be holding my own Tool ticket. At 5:42pm I decided to check my Facebook messages as I sat waiting in the car… and like sunlight smiling down upon my heart as storm clouds parted, there it was… a message from a friend Leanne “Hey Anthony, I have a spare ticket to Tool tonight if you're interested?”

Damn straight, you go girlfriend!

7:20 and with ticket in hand I headed toward the city with nothing but the dark and haunting textures of Tool covering my mind. The sun was yawning and a cool breeze was creeping as I wandered through the gardens up to the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. It was like I was going to a festival back in the 90’s. Although I didn’t have my flannie with me, I was wearing long black shorts and had a lack of respect for authority ready as I walked up to the gates. “No esky’s, umbrella’s, fold up chairs, alcohol, glass, camera’s, video cameras and this includes fixed lensed camera’s”. I was ready for them. The bastards.

“Please have bags ready to be searched, your tickets out and spread out to the left and the right for entry”. Seriously, why was no one else laughing. As I walked through the aisled fences like lambs being led to the slaughter, two alternagirls were laughing about it and I was glad I wasn’t the only one who thought the commentary out of place in such a supposed serious context but also how absurd the entire Big Brother style herding was. A guy in the aisle next to me was having his camera confiscated for the gig and his name written down to (hopefully) collect it after, depending of course on who borrowed what before the gig was over never to return. As I pulled out my camera and held it tightly in my hand, mobile phone kind of thinking about concealing it, one of the alternagirls provided the best cover as she joked with the security as he frisked me and he never took his eyes of her… nice one. I got through and let them know, perfect distraction.

I bought some hot chips and ate and people watched. Picture the Big Day Out circa 1994, Tool t-shirts, of course in abundance, Scooby t, dreads, tatts, tanned surfer dudes, baby doll dresses, embroidered wrist band and docs. A guy walked past with a t-shirt that read “I listen to bands that don’t exist yet”. Little did he know he just walked past a rock star, I’m in that band.

After Jakob, the support band had finished and some time had passed, I wandered up the back of the hill and half way down through the crowd for a position to see the power of what was to hit me harder than a road-train. I’m not sure why I didn’t bother to see Jakob other than I was content to just people watch. The stage was colourless and only semi-lit. It was covered in screens that were off and it had the taste of an industrial factory. At 9:02 the background music faded and the translucent green lights came forth. “Think for yourself, question authority”. Devil horns were thrown followed by “fuck yeahs” and non threatening lid discarded recyclable plastic bottles were lightly thrown as a way of showing in unison to the almighty that Tool are loved!

What a love / hate relationship it is. Both ends of the spectrum. You either love them and fall right into their spellbinding monolithic creations or you want to belt Maynard and his followers. There doesn’t seem to be any in between. Though there were those of us there for some good ol’ shit as some shout outs between songs were for tracks from what I’d been blaring, Opiate and Undertow. I was pretty close to yelling “Throw that Bob Marley wannabe motherfucker outta here”.

As Scarlett Johansson and Danny Glover walked out onto the stage in my mind and announced “And the Best Audio / Visual Mindfuck Award goes to… TOOL !!!” I was drowning in a landscape of lasers and Egyptian inspired fractal storms, an embryo growing in the brain of a malnourished and deformed skinless life form, firestorms of rage and desperation were hypnotising and we stood there frozen as we were lead by the thundering bass of Justin Chancellor. At lightning speed you could metaphorically see him pounding his chest as the raw brutality of his natural instincts played out on stage. Leaning forward and swaying as sweat dripped off his head and exploded onto the stage floor where he stood on the right.

The vibrations shot up through the earth as my drink crashed side to side in the glass, coke waves crashing against the politically correct we know our safework practices plastic cup. “I think I’m stoned!” one personality said to another as there was more pot smoke around us than oxygen.

If it seemed a little off that the stage techs were wearing white lab coats, it was a Tool gig and I assume most of us there just took it in our stride. When Adam Jones also walked out in all white though it looked like he had just stepped out of a Napisan commercial. Tool’s music is dark, mysterious and powerful, much of this is owed to Adam’s style and use of his guitar. He can gently manipulate a pedal and tweak it just enough to drop the sound into another atmosphere and play games with your mind. You forget how delicate some of his playing is, it’s not all brutality and fucking power chords to get their strength. It’s the band building and entwining themselves into our raw emotion. Through the use of the visuals and the sounds they create, they interlace their psyche with ours and take you to such a different world that you just can’t help but fall in with your heart and soul. Adam was on the left and doesn’t need to go nuts on stage like a lot of guitarists to get your attention. No rock star poses, no jumping and orgasm faces, he knows he’s got you by what he plays and he can play like no other.

On the next platform behind, Maynard James Keenan stood, half bent over, mostly his silhouette visible due to the intensity of the sky high screens behind him. Some sort of synth and other contraptions to his right and mic to his left with a megaphone usually hanging over his shoulder. He layered his vocals through echoes and delays, distorted it through the megaphone and looked like a Cherokee up on stage mohawked and with a chieftain stance. He seems to be their leader and somewhat despised by those that don’t follow Tool, though he is also a brilliant musician and knows how to use everything of himself to make that subtle difference that can create a whole new world.

On our right of Maynard, Danny Carey sat amongst a city of drums and cowbells, symbols and who the fuck knows what pots and pans to get the rhythmic beast he rides to steam roll over the top of us all. He was the stand out for me. He beat the hell out of those skins and his speed was phenomenal. Rolling his sticks round the kit like a basketball going right the ring at warp speed. I wish I was closer to see him in action in more detail but other than that the screen and lights looks awesome where I was. The sound was clear and although at times you couldn’t hear every little effect due to the size of the Bowl, I thought it was great. The breeze was gentle and I only noticed once the sound being carried away for a split second and then instantly returned to continue the onslaught. He was a powerhouse! Cliché? Who cares, I’m full of them! It was fuckin awesome just being in his presence and hearing him live.

The crazy arse drum solo during Lateralus was amazing with Jeff Friedl and Jason Johnstone. As I was so far away I wasn’t sure who was who. A naked man walked out on stage and wandered over to play a tall Djembe style drum with sticks, one stealthily slid across the floor in full forest camouflage and moved up to another kit at the front of the stage. Both brought out during a song break. It was a steamrolling Tool version of dueling banjo’s.

I have been itching to see Tool for years. For every opportunity that arises there is a reason to not be able to get there. I saw them back in 1995 as part of the muddied slush that was Sydney’s Alternative Nation festival along with Faith No More, L7, Ween, NIN, PWEI, Tea Party, Therapy? and Primus amongst others. I have had an itch that I just haven’t been able to scratch! Leanne is a legend and I thank her for the pure rock that she is for thinking of me and making this happen!

As we headed back up the grassy knoll at 10:52 and toward the exit, once again being herded and subconsciously hearing baa-baa there were faces with smiles, drunken and (unfortunately not) Sober, some bewilderment from knowing it would be amazing but not on this magnitude, some dazed from the lights and sounds, though everyone was stoked to be a part of this! The big brother voice crackled over the speakers once more “Queue for items that were confiscated from you earlier is on the right, exit on the left”. At least punters could pick up what they scored earlier on the way out, not a complete loss.

As I took the long walk back to my car all I could think about was what I’d been up to and how awesome my night was… exercise, mozzie bites and Tool.


1. Third Eye
2. Jambi
3. Vicarious
4. Intension
5. Right In Two
6. You Lied (Peach cover)
7. Schism
8. Lateralus (with Metallica - "Orion" snippet, ft. Jeff FriedlPUSCIFER and Jason Johnstone - Jakob)
9. Ænema
10. Stinkfist

Drove past this on the way home...

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