Last night my husband and I drove to Camden NJ to see Tool. My idea.
As we’re getting our kids ready for bed, the babysitter due at any moment, I put on my favorite skinny jeans, high-heel knee-high black boots, sequin-y black tank and a gray featherweight cardigan. Then my husband goes to get ready. We meet in the bathroom.
“Are you going to wear that?”, I say. “I think so?”
“Oh. Well, it’s just that, well, what’s the look you’re going for?”, I ask. “Auto mechanic Snowboarder? Do you want to pick out something?”
“Yes”. I swap out his dark blue Dickies and O’Neil emblazoned t-shirt for dark jeans and a charcoal gray long-sleeve polo and Docs—very “Understated Rocker”—and off we go.
First off, the place smelled like a 1000 hoagies. WITH onions.
“I’m going to have to pee”. Strangely, there were 400 guys in line for the bathroom and zero for the women’s room. Is it backwards day? Clearly Tool is a guy thing. And I now realize I didn’t need to have my husband change into something “nice.”
When we finally made it through a sea of people in black (without anyone spilling beer all over me), and got to our seats, I smelled smoke. Why are people smoking?! You can’t smoke in here. I should say something. No, I’m not going to say anything, I’m in PHILLY. At a TOOL CONCERT.
The lights went down. Cigarette smoke quickly gave way to pot smoke. Mostly from the big hairy hippy next to me. Now I’m rethinking changing seats with my husband to avoid sitting next to the freaky looking hippy with the orange 1906 mustache. I’m also wondering how we paid so much for tickets so far from the stage.
Luckily there was no opening band. The band went on stage at 8:45. Perfect, ’cause I’m going to be asleep by 10:00.
When the concert starts, everyone jumps up. YES! We will stand up the whole time. Why did I pay for a chair? I could sit. If I was 96 years old. I don’t care how much my back hurts. Why did I wear these boots?
As the band played the first couple songs I struggled to recognize, I became aware that there are more people in our row and the rows around us than there are chairs. This later became a topic of continuous conversation with the girls in front of us, I think, it was hard to hear, but I think they managed to get them to leave.
I also want to mention, there is no photography allowed. “If you have a phone, keep it in your pocket”, the woman who frisked me said. So, of course everyone around us was taking videos with their phones making it ever harder to see Maynard James Keenan who was hard to see anyway because he stood in the back of the stage the whole time.
It was, of course, an interesting crowd. The more I looked at the people around us, the more I wonder, “Was this a mistake?” I said to my husband, “I’m not really sure I thought this through.” And he replies, “Yeah, I was kind of surprised when you suggested it, that maybe you didn’t know what you were getting yourself into.”
I found myself listening with my eyes closed most of the concert which is the best way to listen to music. Like when you’re 15 and you’re lying on the floor in your bedroom with those giant headphones listening to the entire album in the dark because your parents are stupid and don’t understand you.
And when they finally played the songs I knew — Eulogy, Schism, 46 and 2, Stinkfist, and Learn To Swim — it was amazing. Totally worth it. Being there, hearing them live was way better than in the comfort of my own home. Because it wasn’t just really, really loud but really big… massive, enormous, all encompassing, 5 dimensional. I don’t know how else to explain it.
Thank you Tool.