The cult of Tool is a fan base in which you're either a black-hearted, tattooed member, or you're dust. Within the art-metal kin who follow Maynard James Keenan's musical output, drink his wine, and chuckle at his April Fool's Day humor, there's a nod of recognition across the brunch tables, car dealerships, used book stores, art galleries, and obviously, live music venues.
It's a secret society that carries on much like a Project: Mayhem bunch -- often hidden away, yet in plain sight. And yes, there is a lot of overlap with Chuck Palahniuk readers.
Now, the many passionate await the rumbling of "Ticks and Leeches" all over their bodies as Tool's newly announced (and confirmed!) tour in 2012.
I'm not among this vigorous, life-affirming group, so I can only speak upon the Tool fanbase from the outside. It's a bit like being out during recess in elementary school and witnessing a group of junior high kids cutting class to smoke cigarettes at their old stomping grounds. It's easy for someone who doesn't even have the "Prison Sex" video memorized to project how much these veritable wizards must know and understand about the world. Although I am not a Tool fan, I'm a fan of Tool fans.
This type of fandom inspires a constant, entertaining bit of bickering. Here, we have a guy who obviously is nowhere close to the inner sanctum. In other words, he's a lot like me, but angrier about it -- and appears to be masking his anger by dissing Tool fans.
The fact of the matter is, any moron can understand Tool, but the hidden
appeal of Tool lies in the fact that they give the illusion of being a
band for smart people. They do this, as any Tool fan knows, by throwing
in jumbled references to high school psychology, obscure religious
references, and miscellaneous meaningless nonsense. Bullshit or not, as
long as there's something there to figure out or interpret, it's going
to make some stoned dropout feel smart.
Not only did no one share their pot with Dr. David Thorpe during his formative years, but his version of "being smart" is something that involved finishing the waste of time that was high school and paying attention in his psychology courses. I mean, this guy put a "Dr." in his byline! He's not a happy man, and if you attend a Tool concert you risk bumping into him wearing a trenchcoat filled with dynamite. A more reasoned argument comes courtesy of our departed friend and colleague, Jeff Stratton's 2001 column.
But equally unhappy are the Tool fans who for some reason give a shit what the Dr. David Thorpes of the world think about the music. PopMatters' Sean McCarthy was so incensed by Rolling Stone's David "what the frick?!" Fricke's fun-poking at Ænima in 1996's year-end issue ("If you need to take a piss in the middle of the record, just hit the pause button.") that he spent the past 15 years roiling and stewing a response until this past September when he finally sat Fricke down naked, tied him up, and whipped his balls raw.
Fricke's analysis perfectly demonstrated that while there were hundreds of thousands of fans pouring [sic] over the lyrics, dissecting the time signatures, and philosophizing how metal would change with the release of Ænima, the vast majority of critics merely viewed it as an album from a better-than-average metal band to write about. For those that could remove themselves from the cult of Tool, Fricke had a point (especially if you listen to "Intermission" on its own on, say, your iPod shuffle). But for Tool devotees, Fricke's review ranks up there with other notable Rolling Stone flubs, such as their initial three-star review of Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation or Nirvana's Nevermind.
Fear is not a factor for you, sir.
And between the 3,200-word mea culpas for even being a Tool fan at all (since deleted, but bless Google's caching power) and the "spiral reordering" of the 2001 album Lateralus to create "The Holy Gift," AKA "a different sound to the album as well as a dynamic story about the
human mind, life, and after life (or whatever your interpretation may
be)," this is a band that will not allow casual observers. And there's nothing casual about selling out stadiums when you haven't put out an album in five years -- but that might very well change soon. "When it's done everyone will know," Keenan said in October.
While we wait for that kernel of knowledge to form in our skulls, where do you stand, fair reader? Loving (and hating) Tool will upend your life. If the thought makes you queasy, better to stop now, find your Kindle bookmark in Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson or get back to making unoriginal Facebook jokes about Kim Jong Il's death, and forget this little tour announcement ever came your way.
Tool 2012 Tour Dates, from here:
Jan 14 - Reno, NV @ Reno Event Center - ON SALE NOW (DEC 16)
Jan 15 - Las Vegas, NV @ Mandalay Bay Center
Jan 17 - Tucson, AZ @ Convention Center Arena - ON SALE NOW
Jan 18 - Albuquerque, NM @ Tingley Coliseum - ON SALE NOW
Jan 20 - Dallas, TX @ Verizon Theatre - ON SALE NOW
Jan 21 - TBA
Jan 24 - Toledo, OH @ Huntington Center - ON SALE NOW
Jan 25 - Toronto, ON @ Air Canada Centre - ON SALE NOW
Jan 26 - London, ON @ John LaBatt Centre - ON SALE NOW
Jan 28 - Boston, MA @ TD Bank North Center - ON SALE NOW
Jan 29 - Camden, NJ @ Susquehanna Bank Center
Jan 31 - Uncasville, CT @ Mohegan Sun Casino Arena
Feb 1 - East Rutherford, NJ @ Izod Center
Feb 3 - TBA
Feb 4 - Charlotte, NC @ Bojangles Coliseum
Feb 6 - Ft. Lauderdale, FL @ Bank Atlantic Center
Feb 7 - Orlando, FL @ UCF Arena
Feb 8 - Atlanta, GA @ Gwinnett Center Arena - ON SALE NOW
Tool. Monday, February 6 at BankAtlantic Center, 1 Panther Parkway, Sunrise. Click here.
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