Sunday, December 2, 2012

No. 550 – Stinkfist

Performer: Tool
Songwriters: Maynard James Keenan, Adam Jones, Danny Carey, Paul D’Amour
Original Release: Ænima
Year: 1996
Definitive Version: None

Unlike with The Who or Pearl Jam, or even Led Zeppelin or Genesis to a certain extent, Tool didn’t become my favorite band overnight. It wasn’t like all of a sudden I saw this one performance or heard this one song and went, Woah, who is THAT?

It started with Sober on Beavis & Butthead and grew organically from there. I liked Undertow. Ænima, when it was released, was a eye-opener. Tool had this distinctive sound, but now they were starting to push the boundaries, making the songs longer and denser.

The release of Lateralus was a further moving in that direction, when I began to call them the ELP of metal and put them close to the top of my bands list. 10,000 Days cemented their status. That I also liked Maynard’s side project, A Perfect Circle, which had released three albums during that time, didn’t hurt.

Whatever, there was no question as to who my favorite band was in September 2006 when I finally saw Tool in concert at the Venue Formerly Known As The Rosemont Horizon. As I mentioned, back in 2001, I was planning to seeing them, but 9/11 happened and plans just sort of fell through.

Unfortunately, Tool was on a five-year album cycle (and it’s been a very long six, going on seven, years since 10,000 Days), and Maynard was busy with A Perfect Circle, aka, Tool lite, so I had a long wait. My patience was rewarded when shortly after 10,000 Days was released in May 2006, tickets went on sale.

Of course, I was going to go, but, would Laurie be interested at all? I mean, if Rush were a guy band, what’s Tool: a caveman band? I had exposed her to a taste of 10,000 Days, and she liked it OK. It’s hard, but trancey and hypnotic. She agreed that there was a lot more going on there than with, say, Metallica. She said she was game to go with me to the show. After all, she said, I’ve dragged you to a lot of plays you didn’t want to see ...

Unlike with Pearl Jam in May of that year, by September, I had my head above water at the magazine. I was busy but no longer overwhelmed, so there was no question that I was going to rock that night. In fact, I don’t think I had been as excited to see a concert since CSNY in 2000, maybe even Pearl Jam the first time in 1994.

Because we were coming from opposite directions from work, we planned to meet in Rosemont. I’d drive down from Deerfield, pick up Laurie at the Rosemont L stop and then drive to TVFKATRH. Due to timing, I’d get there well before her, so I said I’d pick up dinner. We agreed on Chipotle.

I was able to eat at the restaurant, and I could see what appeared to be concert-goers start to stream in. There were a few young couples, but I couldn’t tell how many of them were actually going to the concert, maybe a few. The groups of guys coming in together DEFINITELY were going.

A woman sat next to me and called someone on the phone. During the course of the conversation—if you’re not going to make any pretense to be quiet, I CAN’T avoid eavesdropping—I learned that she was going to see Tool.

After I finished, I got back in line to get Laurie’s burrito and then headed to the L. Laurie was smiling when I picked her up. She said she was on a car with about 40 guys, most in black T shirts, all of whom got off at her stop with her. She didn’t see another woman get off the L at her stop.

I told her about the woman at Chipotle, that at least one other woman would be there, but I think she took more comfort in her chicken burrito than in that tidbit.

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