9 August 2002

Skip past the intro to the concert

Well, since I stopped frequenting the Creed message board, my connection to other people who listen to the same music as me (not Creed ironically) kinda died. Also, I used to check the Toolshed and the NIN Hotline every day, then I got a new computer and forgot to update the bookmarks. And on top of all that, there was no presale this tour. So all of these factors contributed to me not finding out that Tool was going to Richmond until about a month after dates were announced. And by then, all the good tickets were gone. Only top tier stuff was left, and I didn't want to pay the semi-reasonable ticket price, the ridiculous "service charge," and drive an hour and a half to Richmond. So. The week of the concert I wanted to go. I tried to win tickets on the radio (they drive you up there). But I couldn't, so I was about to give up on it, when Hurl said he wanted to go. AND he would drive. So, I ordered three tickets (top tier, but who cares? a Tool concert is a Tool concert...I knew it would be worth it).

We left my house at about 4:45, the concert being at 7:30. We wanted time to allow for traffic, since the interstate has a good chance of sucking during Friday rush hour. This turned out not to be a big deal though, because Hurl did 75 or 80 most of the way there, and we only ran into two brief traffic encounters.

Worth mentioning are a couple of people we saw on the way up. The first guy we saw was at the intersection to the parkway. He was standing at his motorcycle so straight that it looked like he was attention. Add to that, he was wearing a leather jacket and a biking helmet. BUT the crowning glory was that his hands were on his hips, and his elbows were ALL the way out. The other guy was a driver whom Hurl had a bit of an altercation with. From Newport News to Richmond, the Interstate is only two lanes. So, Hurl was in the left lane and this guy was in the right lane. He wanted over, and was driving next to Hurl, keeping pace with him. There was a camper in front of Hurl. He looked at Hurl like he was stupid for not slowing down to let him over. So Hurl sped up a little bit to let the guy in behind him. The guy sped up too, and gave Hurl another dumb look. For the next 5 or 6 miles, Hurl made it a point to pass him and slow down.

Anyway we made the 75 mile trip in pretty good time. We got through the entire Slipknot CD (the good one, not Iowa), and back into Eyeless when we got off the interstate.

So we finally got into Richmond. Now the quest was for a parking garage. Having missed the original turn specified in the directions, we decided to drive around aimlessly, sometimes following cars purely because they had 18-20-year-olds wearing black clothes. But after only a short time (8 minutes probably) we found a parking garage. Its clearance was questionable, though. It said 6'9, and Hurl's Blazer barely made it under the bar. We crawled through the garage, afraid to gun it and scrape the top of his car. One of the times, the ceiling was actually low enough to make his antenna move. I'm sure it looked very humorous.

Once we were parked, we had to find the Coliseum. Even though it was right down the street from the garage entrance, we weren't allowed to go through the entrance. We had to go down an elevator, through this weird mall/market thing. It was three buildings that weren't connected, except by a skyway. We kept having to leave the building, cross the street, and go into another building. We got to the Coliseum and were stunned to see that nobody had a hackey sack. Disheartened, we went to pick up the tickets I had ordered a mere 20 hours earlier.

The Concert
So, I would have expected the Coliseum to be nice, since Richmond is the capital. But in actuality, it was pretty crappy. It just looked old and uncared for. The food was as overpriced as expected, but I was hungry so I paid my $5 for a piece of pizza and a drink. We found our seats, which were not as bad as we expected. High, but still a pretty good view of the stage. As we ate, we discussed the deer hunting decoy that was sitting in the center of the stage, with the spotlight on it. Hurl was distracted every five minutes by a girl that he claimed he would have sex with. We discussed Tomahawk, the opening band. The general conversation was, never heard of them, don't know if they're good, can't be worse than Fantomas (the band that opened for Tool the last time we saw them).

Well, the last part wasn't quite right. The singer of Tomahawk was the same one from Fantomas. He still sucked, too. He made all kinds of unintelligible noises and screams into the microphone while his band played. I had to cover my ears cos of how harsh the noises were...which is not really what I consider music. We were joking that the band really was Fantomas, but they changed their name so nobody would be like "Fantomas is opening? Screw that, I'm showing up late."

The thing with the deer was a little funny. After the lights went out (but before the band came out), someone offstage said. "Hi. I'm a six point buck. I'm looking for a good doe. We're having a stag party offstage." There was more dialogue but it got progressively less funny (as it was becoming played out). But after seeing/hearing Tomahawk's performance, I wouldn't have minded an hour long deer routine in retrospect.

The only thing that made Tomahawk bearable was the row of guys behind us. After about the third song, someone yelled "YOU SUCK!" Everyone around us agreed I think, because they started laughing. With each song there was progressively more booing. A few songs later, the guy behind us, and the three or four others around him, joined forces to shout "YOU ARE THE WORST BAND EVER" which honestly had me laughing pretty hard. I know Tomahawk heard them; they were that loud. Later I think they got confused because a lot of people were booing them while they had police uniforms on. They thought that this negative reaction was to the uniform, rather than to their crappy music. The conversation went like this:
Tomahawk: What, you don't like police?
Crowd: (boos).
Tomahawk: What's the matter, don't you like GOOD cops?
Crowd: (boos).
Guy behind us: YOU FUCKING SUCK.

And it continued to get worse after this. Every song they played was the same: it sucked and it hurt my ears. In what seemed like a terrible attempt to drown out the crescendo of booing, they asked if anyone liked to drink. There was tremendous applause and cheering to this, which didn't really surprise me, but didn't impress me either. He then said, "this next song is in the key of...WHISKEY" to which the guy behind us replied "I'LL BET IT STILL SUCKS!" They finished this song, to a chorus of boos with some mixed cheering. Then they made a big production about how Tool wouldn't come out unless we were happy. Then he asked, "are you happy?" And the guy behind us yelled "HAPPY YOU'RE GETTING OFF THE STAGE." At one point, Adam came out to play guitar with them (I think he was trying to bail them out)...I couldn't tell when cos I couldn't see, and the singer didn't say anything until Adam left. The only good part of their performance (besides the guy behind us) was the very last song, which had NO screaming, or any other funny noises. Then they finally got off stage.

During the wait for Tool, nothing extremely notable happened. The only thing was, some guy tried to bum rush the guards on the floor because he wanted to get in the pit and he didn't have a ticket, and some cops jumped him. They handcuffed him and dragged him out of the Coliseum, while all the onlookers cheered. The soundcheck guys got cheered a whole bunch, as usual. During the soundcheck, the projection screens on each side of the stage displayed some grids...so it was confirmed that Tool would be playing videos during the show again. But that was pretty much it. The lights dimmed and everyone started yelling and clapping.

Setlist: Sober, The Grudge, Stinkfist (extended), Forty-six & 2, Schism, Parabol/Parabola, Ænema.
After Intermission: Disposition, Reflection, Triad, Lateralus.

The lights were out, and there was a bit of background music being played from offstage. At the time I had figured out what the instruments were, but I've since forgotten. Some type of woodwind, and maybe some chimes, I think. Anyway it got steadily louder, and faster, and eventually higher pitched.

The band came out while it was still playing and the lights were still out, to great appluase. By now the background was so high pitched that when Adam started making feedback over it, it sounded completely natural. And, following the feedback, was Sober. It was a great choice for an opener, since it was the song they didn't play at any show last tour. The lighting was awesome, it went with the rhythm of the song. The video screens displayed an animated version of eye surgery, with the clamps holding the eye open, and the eye itself being doused with water. Ken told me that the video was pretty accurate to what eye surgery looked like, as he had watched it take place on The Learning Channel. But anyway Tool's timing was incredible during Sober, which set the example for the rest of the night.

The Grudge was the next song played. I don't know if the backdrop was just not there on Sober, if the lights weren't on it until now, or if I just didn't notice it. But anyway, there was a big backdrop that had a weird picture with some aliens or something on it. The lights changed on it, and it would change the picture in some slight way. The video screens showed a face with a scalpel making an incision in the forehead, cutting open a third eye. I'm not sure if Maynard's scream lasted the entire 30 seconds as it does on the album version; it seemed like he cut it off early. Maybe it's because he's been on the road for pretty much three years straight.

The feedback at the end led up to Stinkfist, as I had pretty much been anticipating beforehand. Even though their performance during this song was as precise as the two preceding it, I felt like I was watching something I had seen before. The same change took place during the interlude; when the chorus (I'll keep digging) was about to start, there was an instrumental bit instead, which threw the audience off completely. Everyone had been singing, and you could actually hear the crowd say "I'll keep-" then trail off in confusion. It was still good, but not really new to me, and honestly I was expecting the change. They got the same reaction (even from me) when he played the drum part at the beginning before launching back into the song.

And, in a fashion identical to the concert last year, Stinkfist led into Forty-six & 2. Still quite smoothly. The video screens displayed a snake eating its tail, just going in an endless circle. This was about the only time during the show that the band's rhythm was off from the video.

The end of Forty-six & 2 led into a sort of guitar/bass duet that sounded a bit like Eon Blue Apocalypse. It led into Schism, though. The lights did so much to the intensity of the song, flaring up red and white on the loud parts. The guitar bridge was perfect. Maynard, again, had his guitar with no head, which he played during a few other songs that night.

During Schism, someone sat down in the seat next to me, finally. But the guy wasn't very reassuring, with his cigarette in one hand and beer in the other. He wasn't really bad, though, except that he kept yelling two phrases all night (yea, only two): "Fuck yea!" and "fuckin' shit!", both of which were exclamations of joy. Seemed kinda dumb to me. The guy also dropped his cigarette on the man in front of him during Lateralus.

It might have been here that Maynard asked if this was Richmond. There was, of course, the required cheering. Then he said, "That's funny, it sounds like Huntingdon, West Virginia." Boos. "So which is it? Richmond?" Cheers. "That's what I thought."

There is, of course, the chance that he was just screwing with the crowd, since he's been known to do that. But earlier I was reading through the WV reviews on the Toolshed, and it seems that Tomahawk was terribly recieved there. The audience took offense to Patton's redneck jokes and threw change at the band, booed them, and chanted "you suck." And while I'm pretty sure our crowd didn't throw anything, people were getting pretty vocal about how much they disliked them, especially during the last few songs.

Anyway, I was glad to hear Parabol, the second non-radio song in what was pretty much an entire set of them. And I think Parabola, which followed it with perfect timing and performance, was possibly the best song of the night. Again, the lights added to the song profoundly. Maynard's voice was right on, and the guitar solo made my neck shiver. The song was an adrenaline rush. Their props during this song were pretty cool as well. I think they were a bunch of black balloons glued together, into a sort of ball. There were two of them, and they were under some air vents or something, so they hovered four or five feet off the ground during the song.

The closing guitar was extended for some time. Adam was playing with what sounded like a theramin. Maynard's heavy breathing lead-in to Ænema startled me. I thought it was just another guitar noise, so I was a little confused when people started cheering. I felt kind of bad about it when I realized what song it was. The audience was into it, I guess it might have been because he says "fuck" a lot. What I really did find nice was thee "circus sideshow" part, because Maynard's voice was a little thin during it, so I could hear the audience singing it. 10,000 people singing it just sounded really cool, because most of them sounded like they were actually on key.

The intermission had some hanging lights that looked like electrical wires. They lit up white, and made noises like on (-)Ions. During this, there was a video playing of a guy's face, that was moving like a wave. As the intermission went on, the guy's face started waving harder and farther, until his skin broke and you could see his skull. At one point, the skin stopped moving at all, and when it stopped, the skull was surrounded by a circle of skin that looked like it had exploded. It was neat.

They came back from the intermission with Disposition. It was another moment, like it was for me last year. I just sat there and enjoyed it. Reflection followed, sounding better than the album, amplified by the live experience. I could feel the vibrations of the bass drum even up in the seats. Maynard got the echo effect, it looked like he was cupping his hand over the microphone and singing through it. The video on the screen had naked people swimming through the water. Everyone needs to see more naked swimmers.

And next, the only other surprise song of the night, Triad. I was really happy to hear it, because hearing it together with Disposition and Reflection was amazing. It was even extended from its eight minutes on the CD. Hearing Triad live reinforced my incredibly high opinion of Danny's drumming skills. The drummer from Tomahawk came out too, and played some toms. It was, in short, amazing.

I was surprised when Maynard delivered the familiar speech about "taking the feelings you're getting here, bringing them home with you, and doing something positive, or creating something positive." Same speech as last year. I guess it's like an album thing. Anyway, while they were talking, they were spiraling a bunch of white spotlights around on the ceiling. I noticed the disco ball above the crowd. It had probably been there the whole show, but I didn't notice it until I was watching the lights. I wondered if they would use it, and looked around the crowd to see if anything was lighting up from the spotlights. All I saw, though, was a myriad of lighter flickers. They started playing the intro to Lateralus, which by now I was pretty sure would be the closing song. Once the real guitar started, they put a white light on the disco ball. And when they got to "red and yellow then came to be," they cycled in red and yellow lights. There was some major emotional buildup during the end of the song. At the end, they did the same thing as last show; group hug, then Maynard ran off and the rest of the band stood there and waved at the audience and threw out water and guitar picks and stuff.

After the Concert
It didn't really take long to get out of the Coliseum itself. There were a lot of exits. On the way out, we heard someone at the beer stand saying that that one stand alone had made $4000 on beer that night. So we went through the first mini-mall, which was unlocked, and crossed the street to the next one. But it was locked. We were kind of confused, since the other one had been open. And it was this one that had the elevator up to the garage. But we just followed the steady flow of people around the corner, and went up the stairs to find Hurl's car, happily free of cinder blocks.

The trip down was cacophonic. The parking lot has one of those downward spiral ramps to get out, which people were walking across to climb up floors. Nobody wanted to let them by, and were honking their horns. Soon, people were making noise just to make noise. There really are no words to describe fifty car horns. But, we did get out of the garage, and enjoyed the hour wait to get on the interstate (keep in mind that it was less than a mile there). The drive to the interstate was through the city itself, but everyone wanted to go through the yellow light and block oncoming traffic, so it was pretty much a nightmare.

But once we got on the interstate, we made the 75 mile trip home in less than an hour, thanks to Hurl's highly illegal driving. He kept saying that he thought tonight would be the night that he got caught. But I guess he got lucky.

So, like I said a year ago, I paid $40 when Tool came back. PLUS a long ass drive. But it was worth it. I still want to hear H. live. They need to come back again next year.