Photos: Tool bring sprawling psychedelic epics to T-Mobile
Last night, Tool brought their staple brand of sprawling, psychedelic songs to T-Mobile.
For their first tour in three years, Tool brought support from opening act The Acid Helps. If unfamiliar with their work, imagine the most middle-of-the-night band you would’ve seen at Sandstone’s Rockfest in 2006. Perfectly serviceable, but forgotten within the set itself. Think Saliva. Cold. Someone that would have opened for Papa Roach. Tool’s lead singer even commented that he wasn’t a fan later in the evening.
The Acid Helps occupied one of the oddest stage setups we’ve ever seen. The five-piece was flanked by six lava lamps and two 32″ screens playing music videos. At T-Mobile Center. It was an arrangement that would have seemed underwhelming for a venue the size of recordBar, much less a stadium.
They also promised they had merch that included a football. We went on a bit of a journey in pursuit of finding an object that should not exist.
On to the headliner.
Vocalist Maynard James Keenan, guitarist Adam Jones, drummer Danny Carey, and bass player Justin Chancellor sound better live than they have in years. With no new release since 2019, and a forced touring hiatus, Tool’s new tour presents the perfect blend of performers who have comfortably mastered every moment of where their compositions can lead, benefiting aging musicians that have had 24+ months to rest up.
“Comfortable” is perhaps the best descriptor that can be tossed at this show. As a compliment. Three decades into their career, the quartet seems… happier(?) to play together than we’ve seen them. That could also be because this is about the most we’ve seen of the band’s faces for a group whose lead singer notoriously skulks through the shadows.
Keenan sounds like a performer 20 years younger, and Carey just continues to evolve into a goddamned machine. We’re also glad that Carey’s time in KC was less eventful than his previous visit. Chancellor was as steady as he’s ever been, but Jones’ guitar work was where the most experimentation and adventuring came from. Four individuals tackling sprawling epic tracks, but undeniably comfortable in a way that perhaps it takes 30 years to achieve.
The visual effects were traditionally exceptional, featuring 3D designs and visualizations that became genuinely disorienting—or perhaps we have a contact high from everyone around us who had lit up. Probably a combination of the two.
But no reflection of the evening would be complete without mentioning the implementation of Tool’s “no photo” policy. Every third chair in the stadium had a small note taped to it, letting the audience know that anyone caught taking a picture or video with their phones would be immediately ejected with no refund, and that checking phones for any reason should be done out in the concession area. As the band’s set began, the floor of T-Mobile flooded with security featuring night-vision lenses, who would indicate via flashlight to audience members they caught holding up a cell phone. People in suits would then show up and ask those identified “Would you please come outside to speak with me,” and they never returned. At least three people in our section did not make it to the encore.
Look. We’ve been to shows that ask us to check our phones at the door to make sure there isn’t documentation. We’ve been to plenty of shows in recent years where the artist has started the evening by suggesting that everyone put down their phones and enjoy an experience together. There was a truly bizarre element of watching what Tool opted for in their version of asking people to be active listeners. For a band that’s always been about “fuck the man,” there’s a real disconnect in employing your own army of Photo Cops to boot people for participating in concerts the way that people now participate in concerts.
A great concert from start to finish either way. Few things in the history of music hit quite like “Sober” and by the time the set hit “The Grudge” our faces were already fully melted. Highest marks across the board—minus hiring Men in Black and The Borg to kick out fans over trying to document a visually stunning show. Will have that stuck in our craw for a while.
Not that it could stop… everyone.
Our photographer Chris Ortiz (Insta: @fastboyent) was there to document it all. He had a piece of paper that said it was okay, so he wasn’t hassled. Was nice to see him down front and know that we had this in the pocket, no matter what.
Right in Two
Hooker With a Penis
Chocolate Chip Trip
The Acid Helps