Remember back in November when I said I’d be back to see Tool ASAP? Well, I’m a woman of my word.

When Tool announced their Western USA tour dates for 2016, I couldn’t resist a sneaky weekend to visit my friends in San Diego to coincide with their San Diego date (9th January 2016 at Viejas Arena), haha!

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I had no luck getting a ticket, they sold out pretty quickly, and were straight on Stubhub, some even up for thousands of dollars! But I managed to call in a favour which was lucky since I’d already booked my (very cheap!) flights.

3 Teeth, a band completely new to me, opened. And they were awesome. I’d not heard of them before they were picked by Maynard to accompany Tool on tour (allegedly he met 3 Teeths vocalist at a wedding and they became friends), but I will definitely give them more attention from now on! Their sound is quite dark, industrial, and interestingly they have no bassist – using keys and samples to fill the gaps. Definitely worth checking out.

Just like at Monster Mash festival, which I attended last Halloween, Primus joined Tool on this tour. I think they’re a good warm up for Tool really, although I would have been interested in seeing a different band rather than the same combination again. And I guess the focus on the bass with Primus was a nice contrast to the bassless 3 Teeth!

Yet again, Primus brought the giant mushrooms on stage with them, haha! They also made good use of the huge video screen behind them, showing home movies, random animations, and other videos during their set. For ‘Mr Krinkle’ Les Claypool wore a pig mask – I did hear he did that for Monster Mash too, but I missed it that time.

Since seeing them at Monster Mash, I’ve listened to a lot more Primus and I enjoyed their set a lot more this time around. Now knowing their back catalogue a bit better I can tell you that they mostly played really old stuff, I think all but one song was before 1995s ‘Tales From The Punchbowl’. They closed with one of my favourites of theirs – ‘Jerry Was A Race Car Driver’. Pretty sure this was the same setlist as at Monster Mash? If not, it was VERY similar.

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So, Tool. Another flashback to Monster Mash, since they opened with Led Zeppelins ‘No Quarter’ again. And the deja vu carried on for the rest of the show – the setlist was EXACTLY THE SAME. Oh, except this time they missed out ‘Ions’. I mean I had heard that they don’t vary their setlists much, but really?

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I know I sound like I’m complaining, but lets face it, I was there for the experience and I can never hear anything Tool do enough times so I was still a happy bunny. I can’t remember if I mentioned this in my Monster Mash post actually, but both times they did play some new material, which has the working title ‘Descending’. I liked it.

Unlike Monster Mash, this time we were treated to an elaborate laser light show – seriously, I have never seen lights so perfectly timed to the music. When you add this to the incredible sound, intricate artwork and video concepts, it was pretty much the perfect show. They may be samey, but Tool have their performance perfected. And what Tool fan really cares about samey?

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So chances are I might go back to the States for Tool again in the not too distant future, who knows. Although I’d much rather they come to London, it’s a bit easier on my bank balance.

L xx

All photos my own (yes, they suck, I was caught in the moment!)

 

So, this was the highlight of, and the real reason for, my USA trip – seeing Tool. Finally. The one (surviving) band I needed to tick off my bucket list. I have wanted to see Tool FOREVER. And since it didn’t look like they’d be coming to England soon, I figured I should just go to them. And what better way to spend Halloween than seeing Tool?

Thanks to a heavy night with some Canadians and too much Jack Daniels in LA the night before I actually nearly didn’t make it to Phoenix for Monster Mash (and I think it’s pretty obvious I’d have been devastated if I hadn’t!). But I got there, just in time for Primus! I was a little disappointed to miss With Our Arms to the Sun and ÆGES, but I have noone to blame but myself for that.

The Music

I’ve never really got into Primus, I was supposed to be going to one of their Primus & The Chocolate Factory UK tour dates but that didn’t quite go to plan so I was looking forward to seeing them at Monster Mash.

I started off heading toward the front of the crowd, but I figured I’d probably get more out of it if I stood back and took it all in, since their vocals are generally a bit mumbly anyway so it wouldn’t matter too much if I lost a bit of clarity. And they had lit up mushrooms on stage, so it was nice to look at.

So I settled down cross legged on the grass in front of the giant screen in the food court. More about the food court in a minute because it was a total game changer.

I enjoyed their set a lot, although as expected it was a little self indulgent in parts.

By the time Tool came on at 10pm, the venue was packed. PACKED. I’ve never been in such a crammed crowd. 30,000 people in a not very big park all around one stage. There were people standing on bins, climbing up trees… security had their hands full.

Again I started off near the front, but it was little me surrounded by lots of much bigger guys so I basically saw a load of backs. So I found a little space on the grassy hill to one side, which was much better. Sound wasn’t great at this venue if you go too far back, so I was happy I got lucky with a good spot.

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Tool opened with Led Zeppelins ‘No Quarter’, with Maynard dressed as Robert Plant. Check out this image from Puscifers Instagram

Went as Rupert Plant of Fred Zepplin last night.

A photo posted by Puscifer & Caduceus (@puscifer) on

I couldn’t really see much of the band themselves though (so if I hadn’t seen the Instagram I wouldn’t have noticed the costume!) as the screens were only showing graphics (yes they were awesome graphics and lights but still). Straight after they finished the opening song, Maynard said ‘Thank you, good night!’, and left the stage. Awkward.

Obviously they weren’t going to leave it at that but there were some people around me who genuinely seemed to think they would. Admittedly I could kind of see Maynard doing that…

Anyway, they came back. And it was awesome. It did feel pretty special hearing Maynard sing ‘Learn to swim, I’ll see you down in Arizona Bay’ during the Bill Hicks tribute ‘Ænema’, since we were in actually in Arizona Bay and everything.

I don’t usually post setlists, but this is Tool, so for anyone interested; No Quarter, The Grudge, Parabol, Parabola, Opiate, Schism, Ænema, Descending (I think that’s just a working title for now), Jambi, 46 & 2, Vicarious, Ions, Stinkfist.

I had hoped to hear something from Lateralus. So I was happy.

Vendors

I didn’t really have time to check out the vendors.

But I did make sure I stopped by the 98KUPD stand where my friend was working. Rob Zombie was the next days headliner and the radio station were running a competition to win a gorgeous red motorbike with Rob Zombie artwork.

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They let me sneak behind the barriers to take a closer look, check out the details!

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Food

You’ll have seen in my posts about Aftershock and Knotfest that I’m always impressed by the food at American festivals. But they were nothing in comparison to Monster Mash – it had a great little food court with really interesting options, a nice clean grassy area to sit in, and big screens showing what was going on on stage. Perfect.

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After doing about three circuits of the food court, I finally settled on a gyro. It was possibly one of the best things I have ever put in my mouth. Seriously.

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And I had a vodka spiked black (mixed berry) lemonade. Bit bitter but different.

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The Venue

I don’t know how I feel about Tempe Beach Park really. It has some really great points – the main stage sits in a sort of bowl, so the grassy knolls surrounding it make for a great view. You can actually see and hear quite well from even outside the park, I noticed on my way in that if you stood next to the road at the perimeter it was a better experience than some people had inside. And there were a lot of people taking advantage of that.

The facilities at the park are great too. Actual proper toilets. Additional portaloos too, but mostly actual toilets. And it was a great layout, to allow for separate areas for vendors, food and the stage.

It just couldn’t really cope with 30,000 people. For a smaller event I think it’d be great.

I had such an amazing time at Monster Mash, even if I only managed to make it for a few hours. And I will definitely put the effort in to see a Tool show again, the sooner the better!

I also met some awesome San Diegans on the walk back to my hotel, who bought me In N’ Out!

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L xx

All photos my own (other than the Puscifer Instagram pic!)