It’s been a few days now since I saw Tool twice in Sydney, and this article is a review of not only the Tool shows, but of my whole trip in general. Of course I’m not going to bore you with too many trivial details, this will mainly be about Tool, but I’ll also be talking about the Big Day Out in general, and also my brief trip to the Blue Mountains.
Note: Those of you wanting to remain oblivious as to what to expect at the Tool shows should probably stop reading now. I will be talking about the show and set list in detail. Come back later…
On Wednesday morning I was up early, at around 5:30am to finish of some work stuff, as well as finishing packing for the trip. Eventually I made it down to the airport, and jumped on the plane to Brisbane. It was interesting to note that there were at least 4 other people wearing Tool shirts (I wasn’t wearing my at that stage), and according to my mates there were similar numbers on the earlier flight to Brisbane. It looks like Rockhampton was pretty well represented at the Tool shows.
On arriving in Brisbane, I noticed on the departures board that my flight to Sydney had been canceled! After a brief moment of panic, I made my way to the customer service desk and arranged to get onto the next available flight, which had me arriving at around 3:30. Turns out the original plane had been hit by lightning 3 times during it’s trip, so was out of action for at least the rest of the day.
Since I had a couple of hours to burn, I did the usual tour of the airport, reading magazines in the newsagent, having an overpriced burger, etc. Eventually I decided to hit the bar and have a beer. I hid down the back and there were several more Tool fans there, one of which had Aenima cranked on his laptop. By the time I left the bar was almost full of Tool fans, generally a bit cranky that their flight had been delayed.
Eventually i made my way to the gate, only to discover that the plane was going to be 30 minutes late. I sat around with the iPod plugged in, only to be informed that the plane was to be delayed again! I was starting to wonder if I’d make it to Sydney at all at this stage, but lucky for me shortly after that the plane arrived. Eventually I got on and arrived in Sydney at around 4:30pm.
I caught the train to the hotel, met my room mates, and ducked out for a quick dinner before heading to JB’s for the meetup at around 6pm. Out the front I was greeted by Mattw, Charred Remains, NINTOOL, Vuduchild and possibly some others whose names escape me. The bar was pretty busy, full of Tool fans obviously, and I did notice several Toolarmy shirts there. I didn’t really get time to wander around and meet people, and I also heard that the Entertainment Centre was opening soon for the alleged 8:00pm start.
After a quick beer with Vuduchild I headed inside, grabbed a T-Shirt ($45) and a Hoodie ($90 – a little overpriced but still cool). I made my way to my seat at around 7:50pm, and discovered that there are no rows past Row X, and that therefore we were in the back row! Ah well, at least we were in the building, and the seats were directly in front of the stage. I had my binoculars too, so I was able to get plenty of close ups of the band members.
Security on the door seemed pretty relaxed as well. There was nothing in the way of a body search at all and the guy at the door seemed happy to take my word for it that I didn’t have a camera, recorder, etc. Maybe i just got lucky or just have a non-threatening face.
At around 8:20 there was still only about 60% of the crowd in the complex. I guess the 8pm start was either crap, or they delayed the start to let everyone in. Chances are most people didn’t know the doors opened earlier, since it was never advertised anywhere. I’m guess the start time was never going to be any earlier than 8:45 anyway, which coincidentally is the time they came on stage. The crowd got a little restless waiting though, and there were some cool Mexican Waves happening.
Tool came out on stage and broke out into their usual opener Stinkfist. Pretty much everyone, including the seated members we on their feet at this stage. Straight off the bat the sound seemed pretty good to me, though since there were no support acts this should be much of a surprise. There seemed to me to be a bit of reverb and/or feedback coming from the drums, especially noticeable in quite but drum heavy songs such a Schism. This was quite possibly due to my proximity to the roof of the building though, since I’ve heard no one else comment on it.
The rest of the set was really good. It was pretty much the same as previous shows I’ve read about, though we got to see Wings For Marie and 10,000 Days which I’m guessing their saving for the solo shows. Jambi‘s visuals blew me away. Something that’s not really evident from any number of bootlegs I’ve seen is that the quality, and in particular resolution of the videos seems a lot better than the Lateralus shows. This is quite possibly due to the smaller screens, but looked great regardless.
Jambi also saw the revealing of the Alex Grey banners behind the stage, something that the Big Day Out show didn’t get. The first one was the eyes that if memory servers is the one used on the final US Lateralus tour, where as later in the show it was replaced with the 10,000 Days artwork. I’m not a huge Alex Grey fan but they did look great when lit up in the right way.
During Swamp Song, Maynard seemed to be teasing Danny near the end at the part Maynard starts the tune rolling again. He’d motion that he was about to sing, the stop just when it looked like DC was about to play. Big smiles all round suggested to me they were having some fun with it.
Lost Keys came on and I watched Justin pretty carefully to try and work out how it was played. It seemed to me that he had some kind of tubed between his amp and a pedal which he switch on during the tremolo-type part of the song. I’m not sure what this device is though. Some kind of voice box being used in an unusual way perhaps? Rosetta Stoned was a highlight for me as well. It was great watching Maynard play with the projections during the last half of the song. He appeared to be trying to spin the image of Saturn that was being projected (from my angle at least) and at numerous other points of the song also moved in time with the images. In other gadget related news, Adam got the Epilady out for one of the segues, the one leading into Swamp Song from memory. Made me wonder if they were going to do Third Eye but it wasn’t to be.
Wings For Marie saw the lasers coming out, which was great, though in the nose bleed section we didn’t get quite the same effect as you’d get being on the ground.
Overall, I thought it was a pretty good show, probably the second best I’ve seen from Tool with the show in Adelaide in 2002 being my favorite. Maynard’s voice seemed to be holding together a lot better than I expected after hearing bootlegs. though I have to say his voice wasn’t particularly loud in the mix. I don’t think there’s any doubt that Maynard’s voice has deteriorated some, but I still feel it was a great performance from him. His body language seemed to suggest that he didn’t enjoy the show to the same level Adam, Danny or Justin, as he walked off the stage almost immediately following the show.
From memory the rest of the show was close to flawless. I don’t recall and major screw ups by any of the band members. After the show the usual drumsticks, picks, etc were thrown into the crowd, and Adam, Danny and Justin took the time to wave to all parts of the audience. I left the show feeling pretty happy and went back to the hotel with much anticipation for the Big Day Out.
After a brief tour of the Sydney CBD, me and my mates caught the train to Olympic Park. Getting into the Big Day Out was pretty painless, which is an improvement from previous Sydney BDO’s I’ve been to. There didn’t seem to be any programs available though, which I found a bit strange. We didn’t really get there until 1:30pm.
The first band we caught was Trivium. Being the token metal band, and me being a token metalhead, I didn’t mind these guys. Though they acted like dicks on stage the music was actually ok. It’s always funny though when a band gets more acclaim for a cover (Master of Puppets) than their own music…
The Drones came on after Trivium, and after a couple of their songs they’re songs all seemed to blend into one alt. rock ballad followed by another. We decided to take the tour of the festival and check out how hard it would be to get into the D barrier. Evermore were boring the audience to death while we entered, and then New Zealand rapper Scribe came on. He was ok, but I can’t say I’m a huge fan of New Zealand (or Australian) hip hop. If they’re not gangster then it’s not really rap to me.
After watching Scribe for a bit, we walked out and caught a bit of Faker and Sleepy Jackson. They were both ok though neither of them really get me too excited. We decided to grab some dinner, head to the toilets and then make our way into the D barrier for the wait for Tool
As an aside, while I had no problems getting an Over-18 wrist band, every bar had a line that was well over 100m long. This and my lack of patience made me not have a beer the entire day. This was no where near good enough in my opinion.
We got into the D barrier while Eskimo Joe were playing with no problems at all. Eskimo Joe played an alright set and helped pass the time. The John Butler Trio came on shortly afterwards. I hate John Butler and his poorly thought out political views with a passion, but I will admit I did enjoy watching the show and the skills of the drummer. The Killers followed, and they played an alright show. They seemed to get most of their hits out of the way early, so by the end of the set I was think I’d had enough of this crap. The singer sure is a jerk too.
Jet came on after The Killers, and were one of the highlights of the day. Not because of the music though but because of the sheer amount of stuff that was thrown at them. It was fun watching them avoid the barrage of shoes, bottles, etc. Not a great choice for a band to play on the Big Day Out in my opinion. The crowd had less respect for them than they did emo fans.
After Jet made their exit (they seemed to finish the show earlier than the timetable suggested) Muse came on and rocked the house. I’ve got to say I was very impressed by Muse, more than any other live band I’ve seen in a while. I’d say it’s safe to say that Muse were probably the band of the day to everyone except die hard Tool fans. Their visual show was very impressive, and on par with what Tool had to offer. The energy of the band added something to the day that I felt was missing up until this point. If you are heading to the Big Day Out, don’t miss these guys.
Tool came on shortly after 9pm as expected. The set was pretty similar to the previous night, though we got to see several songs that had been omitted. We lost Wings, Rosetta Stoned and Swamp Song, gaining The Pot, Opiate and Sober. A quite reasonable swap I though, and considering the lack of change we’ve seen in previous US and European tours, I felt pretty lucky.
The show sounded excellent. From the D barrier when the sound was unaffected by wind, the show was flawless right from the start, though I did notice Adam spoke with the guitar tech on a number of occasions at the beginning of the show. I was pretty happy to hear them play The Pot, as i was dissappointed that we got Swamp Song instead the night before. It was a good version too.
One thing I noticed is that there were a couple of visual problems. The screens during The Pot seemed quite dull, and there appeared to be a glitch on Maynard’s screen that during certain sections of the night showed a slightly smaller version of the visuals. Not a big deal, but slightly annoying none the less.
I noticed that there were a lot more screwups by the band during the show. I just think it was one of those nights were they were not quite in tune with each other, since I think all four members messed up at one stage or another. Even Danny is human….
Maynard didn’t say too much, he welcomed us all as hippies, and mentioned they’ll be back in December. I didn’t notice too much in the way of bad crowd behavior, though other reviews I’ve read suggest otherwise. While I was in the D, I stayed towards the back like the old fart I am and didn’t venture into the mosh pit at all. I did notice that the crowd seemed to thin considerable before the end of the set. People going to see the Crystal Method and Violent Femmes I imagine. I guess when 50%+ of the attendees are there to see other bands than Tool, then you can’t expect them to stay riveted to the set like us fans. Despite what some of us may think, Tool aren’t the only decent musical act in the world.
Overall it was a good Big Day Out, it started off pretty slow, but after seeing Muse and Tool and I was pretty impressed and went home feeling pretty damn good.
A bit of advice for getting into the D barrier though. I was watching the lights on it, and it seemed that the D barrier was only open for very small amounts of time after the Killers came on. If you do want to get into the D and avoid the crowd crush, I’d suggest getting in before John Butler Trio come on (presuming you can avoid the urge to pee that long, one of the advantages of not drinking I suppose). Getting in anytime after then seemed like hard work.
Getting home was the usual game or sardines on the train. It was funny though seeing all the Roger Waters fans squashed into the train with the sweaty Big Day Out fans.
For those concerned with Merchandise, the exact same selection of Shirts and Hats were available at both the Tool show and the Big Day Out. There were 4 different men’s shirts, 2 womens shirts, the hoodie and a hat. No posters. All shirts were $45, Hoodie was $90 and the hat was $40. These prices were the same at both shows. There were some dodgy looking shirts available outside of the venue too….
I didn’t notice many people trying to sell tickets to either event, but there were definitely lots of people looking to buy tickets.
The next few days following the Big Day Out, I headed up to the Blue Mountains, where the highlight of the trip was spending Saturday at Jenolan Caves. For anyone who hasn’t been there, or to the Blue Mountains for that matter, make sure you go. It’s one of the most beautiful places in the world, and the caves will blow you away when you see what Mother Nature is capable of creating.
I have plenty of photo’s from the trip, and hopefully will be posting some on Fourtheye soonish. If any of you have reviews you wish to submit, then feel free. I will hopefully be setting up a reviews section in the next few days.