Monday, November 2, 2015

Tool/Primus Headline Monster Mash in Tempe, Arizona

"The music is a catalyst for the ideas," says Keenan, who saw Bill Hicks perform only once, but nevertheless owns bootlegged versions of the albums Rykodisc is planning to release. "His ideas were what really resonated with us. I think that's what he really liked about us as well -- that we were resonating similar concepts. Unity is the philosophical center. Evolution. Change. Internally and externally. Individually and globally. That's pretty much the gist of his comedy no matter what he was talking about -- music, porno, smoking. Whatever it was, it came back to the idea of unity and evolution. Evolving ideas."
Consequence of Sound:
Tool will temporarily step out of the studio to headline Tempe, Arizona’s Monster Mash festival on Halloween (October 31st). It marks Tool’s only confirmed performance of 2015 and return to the stage for the first time since embarking on a brief US tour in April 2014. The lineup for Monster Mash also features Primus and Coheed and Cambria."

Rolling Stone:
Tool's only scheduled tour date of 2015 – a headlining set at Tempe, Arizona's Monster Mash – happened to fall on Halloween, so the dormant group celebrated the occasion by resurrecting their cover of Led Zeppelin's "No Quarter" onstage for the first time since 1998. Not only did the Lateralus crew dust off the Houses of the Holy classic, the group did it in full costume as Maynard James Keenan performed the song as Robert Plant, with the rest of Tool similarly donning Zeppelin-era clothing, Stereogum reports.

Tool's Monster Mash gig marked the first show by the full band since March 2014 – the members of Tool did reconvene sans Keenan Friday night for a VIP warm-up gig in Tempe – and the only concert the group has planned for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, Keenan will tour in support of Puscifer's new LP Money Shot, work on his upcoming authorized biography and possibly work on Tool's first album since 2006's 10,000 Days.

"They're working hard in their own way; I'm working hard in my own way, and I've got nothin' for ya," Keenan told Rolling Stone of his band mates' progress on the new Tool album.

AZ Central:
At Tempe Town Lake, the most popular costume of the night appeared to be that of "diehard Tool fan," a point the long line at the Tool merch booth drove home. The Tool sweatshirts and hoodies were sold out even before the anticipated evening temperature drop.

Which was a boon to With Our Arms to the Sun, the local band which shares management with Tool and opened the show. They had some cozy autumnal overgarments left even after their scorching, well-received afternoon set. You've got to give a band props for successfully conveying what they classify as "cinematic experimental music from the desert" in the harsh light of day.

ÆGES never spared the hooks throughout its energizing set which included a new song "Another Wasteland" which Winters claimed was "The first time we ever played that song, in front of 25,000 people." At the merch booth, Josh Breckenridge, frontman for With Our Arms to the Sun, told me there were 30,000 tickets sold for the Saturday show.

Coheed and Cambria's latest material is a complete 180 from the usual prog-rock concept album discography we're used to hearing from Claudio Sanchez and company. The band's new album is (gulp) a non-concept album with nothing to do with Sanchez' continuing Armory Wars storyline, making their set a most schizoid affair, as if you had selections from Rush's "2112" and Queen's "News of the World" on the same mixtape.

When Primus took to the stage with two giant lit-up mushrooms bookending the band, you could still see the stage somewhat. It was then that a lot of the new arrivals had to make an executive decision. Do we stand where we can hear the vocals clearly but can't see anything or sit in the Food Court where you could see the videos clearly but the vocals were only heard from a distance. Since most of Les Claypool's vocals are a mumble anyway, the Food Court seemed the safer bet.

It's undeniable that Claypool wrenches sounds out of a bass that no other homo sapien does (and admittedly, most bass players don't have a bass with a whammy bar to facilitate such experimentation). He's a master technician who has influenced everyone from the kid down the street practicing in his parents' basement to the guy that does the poppin' breaks on every Seinfeld episode. A little Primus goes a long way for most non-musos and as far as watching a craftsman playing a bowed stick bass that looks like a giant toothbrush from far away, you might as well be watching a carpenter sand down a table. And if that carpenter is wearing a Mr. Krinkle pig mask and playing something else in the background, no contest.

By the time Tool took the stage at 10 p.m., you were lucky to find a patch of grass on a hill where you could see a portion of the pentagram that hung above the stage. Tool fans went nuts when they played Led Zeppelin's "No Quarter" for the first time since 1998, with Maynard James Keenan allegedly dressed like Robert Plant. I say allegedly because the video feed which allowed us to see every inch of Les Claypool's face earlier was turned off and only offered computer graphics later on.

"Does anyone remember Napster?" our faux Plant exclaimed. After completing this classic rock staple, Maynard said, "Thank you good night!" and three minutes of bass feedback followed.

People on the grassy knoll behind the closed water-slide section were concerned. Was this Maynard's way of getting back at Tool fans who took things too seriously, as his recent New Times cover story claimed? Admittedly doing one song and vacating the premises would've been the greatest Halloween trick of all time but he came back to give us the good and bad news.

"The good news... is it's fucking Halloween. The bad news is... we are not Led Zeppelin."

If Tool fans also lack a sense of humor, as demonstrated by their purported intolerance of Puscifer, Keenan wasn't going to let it ruin his good time.

"When you play shows for tens and thousands of years, it's always exciting when someone really famous shows up," he said, getting everyone's hopes up until he name-checked some dude dressed as The Caped Crusader up front. "It's a real honor, Batman. I'm a great admirer of your work," he said.

The biggest cheers of the night came when Keenan sang "Learn to swim, I'll see you down in Arizona Bay" during his Bill Hicks tribute "Ænema."

Consequence of Sound:
In anticipation of Tool’s performance at Monster Mash, frontman Maynard James Keenan spoke with David Accomazzo of the Phoenix New Times. Understandably many of the questions posed to him were about his three-time Grammy Award-winning rock band. “But as with any time he’s asked about Tool, his answers quickly become curt,” Accomazzo notes, “A hint of exasperation creeps into his voice and he exhales heavily through his nose.”

Asked about the humor found in Tool’s albums, Keenan responded, “Yeah, it’s there, but people miss it because they’re so focused on the other bullshit.” He added, “It’s lost. Insufferable people … It’s just ridiculous, retards. I’m sorry. Can’t help them. Way too serious. Too much. Lighten up.”

In the interview, Keenan also admitted that the rest of the band “had to con me into” playing the Monster Mash performance, and when it comes to Tool’s long-awaited new album, he replied simply, “There’s nothing to say. I can’t.”

Instead, Keenan appears focused solely on his other band, Puscifer, which is set to appear at Monster Mash, ironically enough. In the interview, he also spoke extensively about his burgeoning wine business.

Keenan has given a statement to Billboard magazine: "It is unfortunate that during an interview about Puscifer's Friday release of Money Shot, a comment I made, in the context of a much lengthier discussion about obsessive fanatics, was taken out of context by a few “news” outlets so they could drive up their own readership. It's called clickbait and it's boring. Our core fanbase aren't fanatics. They're music lovers, artists and good people. It's the fanatics that are insufferable."

More information:
» Setlist: Monster Mash at Tempe Beach Park
» Phoenix New Times: "Tool Fans Will Just Have to Wait"

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