A round floor-to-ceiling fringe curtain slowly encircled the empty stage, shrouding it in intrigue and mystery. The arena suddenly went dark and an instrument began to play ominous sounds that electrified the crowd, and they immediately stood at attention.
Slowly, pained skulls and faces scrolled across the fringe. The roundness of the curtain made the faces scrolling across it look alive. The faces were overtaken by a pulsing network of vessels as Tool took to the stage behind the glowing curtain and began playing “Fear Inoculum,” the title track of their 2019 album.
A mohawked Maynard James Keenan stood atop a tall platform on one side of the stage with hardly any light upon him, as he likes to do. The dark silhouette created a negative space amidst a burning sky and red sea, which quietly faded into an icy planet. Maynard welcomed the fans to his show, but he did not care for what he felt was a lackluster response from them. He told them to “work on it.”
Through a series of uninterrupted songs including “Opiate,” “The Pot,” “Pnuema,” and “The Grudge,” Tool remained ensconced in their own galaxy, sending us radio waves of communication. Visuals of the human eye, damaged and scarred bodies, and the deepest parts of the sea splashed across the background screen and fringe curtain.
A huge 7-point star crowned the band as well. The 7-point star is sometimes used to ward off evil, but it didn’t seem to working when the darkness of “Right In Two” and “Descending” came upon us.
Finally, the curtain receded back revealing the creators of this strange universe. They were inviting us in, it seemed. But maybe they were just taking over. Light beams started to shoot out across the crowd, the lights would drench the whole arena in blood red, and visuals of creepy bodies with never-ending tongues, miles of teeth, skulls with no eye sockets seared our eyes. This demented trip took another turn when “Hooker With a Penis” started up and the entire band was placed in front of a black pyramid. As the popular song progressed, the visuals slowly went away, the lights turned white, and lasers ceased. Everything was fading.
Tool left the stage, but a 12 minute countdown started up. What would happen now?
With extreme anticipation, everyone waited for that clock to wind down. Drummer Danny Carey walked onto the stage. The screen showed a kaleidoscopic bird’s eye view of his blazing fast solo. He also toyed with a complicated synth board. The 7-point star moved forward and then down as the rest of the band returned to the stage. They sat closely circled with the massive piece hovering just above them, and glittering confetti quietly rained down over the entire arena as they performed “Chocolate Chip Trip” and “Culling Voices.”
Maynard announced that the next song would be the last of the evening. He said that the audience finally did “fairly good” in cheering him on and gave them permission to film and photograph the last song, which was “Invincible.” As the first notes played, he told us, “Good luck.”