BLOG - HOCKEY & HEAVY METAL
March 18, 2014 • 02:23 PM
CONCERT REVIEW: TOOL WITH SPECIAL GUESTS YEAHMAN & THE BRAHS
At some point I will pass away and stop seeing live music in this dimension, but between now and then a triad of live shows I’ve seen over the past month will go down as all-time highlights. First there was the Spiritualized gig (chronicled here, scroll down a couple entries). Then there was the “secret” Prince show last weekend, a 4-hour, 5-encore, 55-song affair that had even Prince’s most hardcore fans calling it one of his best ever. Completing the hat trick this weekend was Tool, who decided to grace us with a rare two-week west coast tour but skip their hometown of Los Angeles. This omission, of course, necessitated (yes, necessitated) a trip to Las Vegas for the lone Saturday night show of the tour, but that’s okay. I’ll deal. On show day I just chilled out, read, relaxed, had a couple great meals and let anticipation build. I settled into my seat early with a copy of this week’s The New Yorker to keep me company as I watched the venue fill up. The recently-revived Failure opened the show, and while I have to confess that the band and their guitar-led alt-rock kinda snuck by me when they were active in the 1990s, I really liked what I heard and will be investigating further.
I could drone on for hours about Tool and their long, spectacular albums that take years to make (the must-haves are Aenima, Lateralus and 10,000 Days), in addition to reciting the tired-but-true line that they are arguably without equal in the heavy rock genre. And yeah, I could prattle on about guitarist Adam Jones’ film and special effects background and its effect on the bands creative vision and live presentation, Danny Carey’s jazz-drumming-on-steroids, singer/vintner Maynard Keenan’s standoffish brilliance, and English import Justin Chancellor’s underappreciated bass playing and creative influence. But I won’t.
The show was split into two sets, a first for Tool, and they’re also now switching numerous songs in and out of the set every night. About half the set is permanent, and so tonight we got a show bookended by two Aenima tracks two start and to finish, and the middle was a mix of stuff from all the others albums, plus a drum-n-synth solo by Danny to start the second set. The visuals were stunning, as usual, and I found myself watching Justin more than anyone else, followed by Danny. Over the space of nearly two hours there were numerous high points, with my favorites being “Lateralus”, “Jambi” and the revived-for-the-first-time-in-eons “Opiate”.
But as excellent as the show was, it was a little hard to appreciate at times because Tool had some guest vocalists “helping” Maynard out. The first one was Yeahman. Oh, you haven’t heard of him? Well, please allow me to introduce him. Yeahman was a tall, lanky, hairy bearded dude with big, thick glasses. He was directly behind me. To his credit, Yeahman is a massive Tool fan, but said massiveness translated into him shouting all the band’s most well-known lyrics at the top of his lungs, usually a step off-key from Maynard, along with an occasional “YEAHHHHHHHHH!!!!” here and there. There was also a “YEAHHHHHHH!!!” after every song, too, but that part was okay. And then next to Yeahman were two guys who turned up about 20 minutes into the show. They were both mid-30s dudes who were basically frat boys grown older, and still with a beer in each hand. These gentlemen would be Brah #1 and Brah #2, named for their habit of calling each other “Brah” on a very frequent basis. Now admittedly, The Brahs were also massive Tool fans, but nonetheless during much of the show they carried on a loud, drunken conversation between themselves. At one point the band veered into early classic “Sober”, and Brah #2 immediately clued in that this song was not in some of the earlier sets from the tour, during the song they pulled said setlists up on his phone to compare and discuss in detail with Brah #1. Oh, and the The Brahs were also kind enough to help out Yeahman with the guest vocals, too. Oh, yes. All I can tell you is after hearing Yeahman & The Brahs belt out the “Spiral out / Keep going” refrain at the end of “Lateralus“ like three tenor versions of William Hung, I can assure you they will not be giving Mumford & Sons a run for their money any time soon.
Seriously though. I just do not understand how people can carry on like this throughout a live music event and somehow think they’re not a major annoyance to everyone around them? This has been a pet peeve of mine for ages, in case you haven’t guessed. It’s one thing when the artist invites or encourages a crowd sing-along, and there are bands who write many songs for that exact purpose. And I can definitely let it slide for a while if it’s someone on the younger side, but Yeahman & The Brahs were all old enough to know better. C’mon, dudes! No one in the building paid $100 to listen to your drunk/ insensitive/off-key screaming over a band whose music and presentation invites no such thing. But, this is unfortunately one of those situations that if you turn around and say something, you’re going to create a bad vibe that lasts the rest of the night, and if you’re outnumbered and try it with drunk guys, it can get very ugly. So at this point all one could really do is turn and give “the look” a couple of times and hope it registers. And on this might, none of them did.
Still an amazing show despite the unannounced guest artists, though. Just had to work a little harder to enjoy it, that’s all.
If anyone reading this happens to know Yeahman & The Brahs, could you pass along the following message for me: Please be quieter. Thanks, brah.