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TOOL Live In George, WA

By Brian Davis, The Velcro Merkin
Monday, June 26, 2017 @ 1:19 PM

At The Gorge Amphitheater June 17th

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Music is the Mother of the Soul – nurturing and nourishing, inspiring and compelling, guiding and counseling. Whichever mother(s) you love the most the best of them are all there to bring out the best in you and to bring you peace in a world of chaos. These mothers can manifest in any variety of soundscapes but regardless how varied & unique you will always find the comforting company of a brother and sister beneath her welcoming wings. As is the fickle nature of preference, it may well be that you don’t like the Mothers of TOOL for the sounds they inhabit, but the family within their nurturing embrace is a nation unto itself urged and coaxed and inspired to seek out the fundamental connections we share as matter & conscience. When powerful music meets powerful message and that symbiosis resonates with millions you cannot – must not - dismiss what it is that inspires such unity of perspective. The path of ignorance is paved with apathy, its destination atrophy and we must turn away from it together or be doomed to forever wander alone.

TOOL is an ever growing, changing, evolving collective of brilliant artists in mediums spanning music to stage production to visual concepts ad infinitum and anyone who fixates on the band only – let alone one specific member – is missing every essential point of the music and the message: Alone we may have our moments, some of them even brilliant, but we all comparatively wither in the radiant light of a focused collective. With that in mind any first timer attending the TOOL live experience should prepare for an awe inspiring assault on the senses with exceptional sound production, typically flawless performances by the band and hands down the most jaw-dropping visual effects you’ll experience this side of the other side. The cumulative experience has ever been intended to transcend a simple live concert and become a uniquely unforgettable experience for both the foundling TOOL fan and the seasoned (sometimes too salty) veteran of the band’s ever-shifting live landscape. The rolling TOOL deftly achieves this feat of gathering no moss by constantly reassessing their songs and the way they are presented, whether by shifting notes and syllables, extending familiar songs into unfamiliar territories of duration & exploration or even molding them into completely new incarnations with naught save the familiar lyrics to bridge the two.

It was this cherished & dependable approach by an already inspiring band that manifested a sustained message of hope and possibility and the closeness of change that resonates in profound contrast to the chaotic state of the world in which we live. Whereas the signature clutch move of TOOL is their slow roiling build to a sharp payoff of a driving riff or vocal acrobatic feat (or both), this night each time the band built the crowd to what seemed a euphoric connection with intimately familiar musical movements they overtly Softened these passages, denying a so-called climax and holding the crowd at a near-fever pitch for the entire two and a half hour performance. The effect was subtle but profound, mesmerizing the crowd and lulling us into physical & mental swaying with a rhythmic mantra pulsing out message after message of awareness, humane obligation, perception of deception and grasping the keys we hold to unlock a bright new future lying just beyond the veil of choice and ignorant denial. Nearly every song offered up on this night carried a profound poignancy of message whose light, when held to the starkly darkened contrast of the chaos consuming this floating golf course we once called home, illuminated a path through, above and beyond the mad descent which ends not in apathy but community, tribal care & one shared life livable by all who seek change.

“The Grudge” was the first candle lit along the path with its message a sharp stick poke in the ribs of our psyche to acknowledge the fact that we choose to cling to bitterness, unforgiveness and the negative emotions we allow to burden our spirits like Atlas encumbered: “Clutch it like a cornerstone, otherwise it all comes down. Justify denials and grip them to the lonesome end...Wear your Grudge like a crown, desperate to control, unable to forgive and we’re sinking deeper.”

The torch then passed to “Parabola”, the normally heavier half of a potent tandem subdued ever so slightly in the name of the establishing theme of sustained mantric reflection & nurtured exploration: “We barely remember who or what came before this precious moment. We are choosing to be here, right now, hold on – stay inside this body holding me, reminding me that I am not alone in this body makes me feel eternal. All This Pain Is An Illusion.”

“Opiate” was a blinding beacon in the raging storm of society’s weak willed eagerness to be told what is right and wrong so as to exempt themselves from blame & accountability even in the face of certain crisis as Maynard’s subtle machinations delivered a single revised lyric to perfectly summarize our beleaguered spiritual state: “Deaf and dumb and blind and born to follow, what you need is someone strong to guide you…My God’s will becomes me, when he speaks he speaks through me. He has needs like I do – we both want to Divide you.”

“AEnima”'s earthquakes and tidal waves were the portentous warnings of a looming futurescape where nature, the mother of all mothers, loses her patience with her parasitic burdens and shrugs us into her tumultuous cleansing waters: “One great big festering neon distraction I’ve a suggestion to keep you all occupied – Learn to swim. Mom’s gonna fix it all soon, mom’s coming ‘round to put it back the way it oughta be.”

Though bleak in the severity of nature’s ultimatum the mantra had become, the way out of the smoke & rubble came wielding the key to avoiding spiritual death via some heavy labor on the chain gang digging through muscle memories in search of “Forty Six & 2”'s Jungian evolution unto unified consciousness: “See my shadow changing stretching up and over me, soften this old armor hoping I can clear the way by stepping through my shadow, coming out the other side. Step into the shadow, Forty Six & 2 are just ahead of me.”

And so it went for a seemingly infinite sustained moment of transcendent reflection lain before us on an altar of self-awareness and forced confrontation with the crucial decision we face while our humanity hangs precariously in the balance. With the smoke finally cleared, the lights restored and the trance broken we were left to ponder the most significant & crucial crossroads we have ever faced both as individuals and as a collective conscience concerned with the fate of all souls – when the dust has cleared and the chosen path stretches out before us will we have lived by our choices or asphyixiated on apathy? “Something kinda sad about the way that things have come to be, desensitized to everything – what became of subtlety? And how can this mean anything to me if I really don’t feel a thing at all?”

Set #1:

  • "The Grudge"
  • "Parabola"
  • "Schism"
  • "Opiate" (extended)
  • "AEnima"
  • "(d)scending"
  • "Jambi"
  • "Forty Six & 2"
  • "Third Eye"
Set #2:
  • Synth/Drum Solo
  • "Vicarious"
  • "Sweat"
  • "Stinkfist" (extended)

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