Tool haunted PPG Paints Arena with nonstop energy and a ton of decay | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Tool haunted PPG Paints Arena with nonstop energy and a ton of decay

click to enlarge Tool at PPG Paints Arena on Fri., Nov. 8, 2019 - CP PHOTO: MIKE PAPARIELLA
CP photo: Mike Papariella
Tool at PPG Paints Arena on Fri., Nov. 8, 2019
The first thing I saw upon entering the Tool show last night was a meal deal for chicken strips and waffle fries. No matter how much you prepare yourself for seeing a prog/art/alt rock show at a sporting venue, it's still hard to reconcile a band with a song called "Prison Sex" being in the same building as ICEEs and a T.G.I. Fridays.
click to enlarge CP PHOTO: MIKE PAPARIELLA
CP photo: Mike Papariella
But once the lights went down and the chain-mail curtain that encompassed three of the four sides of the stage opened on vocalist Maynard James Keenan, guitarist Adam Jones, bassist Justin Chancellor, and human metronome Danny Carey, the trappings of corporate America marketing was melted away by almost incomprehensible time signatures, delay pedals, and Tool's signature backdrop of nightmare-fuel imagery. 
click to enlarge CP PHOTO: MIKE PAPARIELLA
CP photo: Mike Papariella
Keenan performed most of the show alternating between two pillars behind the band, stancing, and rocking back and forth like a blend of Henry Rollins and an extra in Shutter Island
click to enlarge CP PHOTO: MIKE PAPARIELLA
CP photo: Mike Papariella
Tool is more of an expertly rehearsed and produced Broadway show than it is a rock concert. There's little to no between-song banter, and none of the performers break character, with Carey slamming a giant gong, Jones moving between synthesizer and guitar, producing unearthly echoes that bounce through the crowd, and Chancellor playing heavy, but clean bass chords.
click to enlarge CP PHOTO: MIKE PAPARIELLA
CP photo: Mike Papariella
Tool is an ensemble of technicians, as I imagine its crew are. Music is never not playing while the band is on stage; there's always an intro, midtro, or outro to build or defuse tension. Imagine Drummer Carey running backstage immediately to practice his rudiments until he astro travels to the next venue.
click to enlarge CP PHOTO: MIKE PAPARIELLA
CP photo: Mike Papariella
Even if you aren't a fan of the band, a Tool show is an event akin to a moon landing. Attendees are going to remember exactly where they were sitting, what they were vaping, and what they were smelling when Maynard promised to see us down in Arizona Bay. 

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