The stage at the War Memorial in Rochester, NY was set, the audience ready and anxiously waiting with two major questions in mind: Would Maynard go on a rant about the current state of affairs, and was the steep price of admission worth it? The answer to both questions? An emphatic Yes and Yes.
As the lights went down, the audience leapt up, cheering for a band that ironically could care less about applause. They were there to connect, to infect, and to spread the same message that they’ve touted since ‘Undertow’: Don’t let yourself be programmed. The band did a roster of favorites including “Forty Six & 2”, “Grudge,” ”Stinkfist” and “Vicarious,” however arguably the best songs came with an accompaniment of commentary by the band’s fearless vocalist.
“We are a nation divided,” Maynard began following a brilliant rendition of “Schism.” “Fear. They use fear to divide us. If you are not afraid, then fear does not work. Educate yourselves.” Educating oneself and questioning authority has been the band’s mantra since it’s inception, a message that seems all the more relevant considering the times we live in. Tool clearly considers themselves
conduits of truth, a task that they do not take lightly. “As artists we interpret and we report,” Maynard continued following “Opiate.” “We are merchants of emotion, emptiness, empathy and sympathy. That is our job.” A job that countless artists claim to do, but half heartedly execute.
While some naysayers are crying foul, questioning the costs of ticket prices for a band that hasn’t put out a new release since 2006’s ‘10,000 Days,’ those people should ask themselves what modern artists are creating sustainable, substaintial art that will last even a fraction of the time that Tool has? What modern bands are saying “Hey, don’t listen to The Man, don’t listen to us, listen to yourselves.” This sentiment was echoed by Maynard himself following the song “Jambi.” “Question authority,” he instructed the audience emphatically. “The authorities attempt to comfort us by giving us orders. Learn how to put yourselves in a state of vulnerability and open-mindedness. Think for yourselves.”
In other words, buy a ticket to their shows or don’t. Hear the message, or or make your own. Tool is trying to tell you they don’t care if you buy a ticket to their concert. They don’t even care if you agree with the message they’re presenting. They just care that you listen to everything, and that you question everything and everyone, including the band themselves. And that my friends, is not only why they continue to sell out arenas after almost 30 years as a band, but why we will continue to love them, snowflake rants or not.