Beautiful letdown

I’ve been a huge fan of the band Tool for the better part of 13 years. I quietly and anxiously waited to hear of a local tour date supporting the release of the album 10,000 Days. When tour dates were released, I made note and two months later, with credit card in hand, I purchased two tickets for the show at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in the Woodlands.

Elise and I saw Tool at the CWMP five years ago and to date, that was the best concert that I have ever attended. It was a show in every sense. The stage was set with video screens that methodically displayed images of life, death, science, the occult, religion, philosophy and what a third eye might find appealing. There were actors dressed as aliens who decended from the top of the stage from ropes, released upon the stage and danced. The music was dulcet, raw, pounding and soothing. We sat there on the grassy knoll and shared a 16 oz. Miller Lite, Buffalo Wings from Hooters and a jaw dropping, mesmerizing performance from one of my favorite bands.

This past Monday I expected nothing less than aural ecstacy from Tool. My parents watched Maly for the evening and everything was set for a perfect evening of entertainment.

We arrived at the Pavilion on time. We had to wait in line for 45 minute while two older men used hand held metal detectors to scan, one by one, the thousands of people in line. Once to the gate we were informed that we couldn’t bring our binoculars with us.

“We brought our binoculars with us five years ago”, I contended to no avail.

We found “our spot” where we stood five years ago. A nice area in the grass in the general admission area of the pavilion. The intro began, the lights dimmed and before we knew it, Tool released itself upon the crowd. Kind of. The kid behind us began his own drunken beer slinging mosh and within seconds the bouncers had him with his arms pinned behind him and escorted away.

The band just wasn’t there. There was no energy. I had read on Tool’s fan site that Maynard had been sick the night before. That obviously carried over into the Houston show. It was a disappointing performance. Halfway through the set, Maynard asked for a moment of silence from the crowd to remember those who lost their lives on September 11th. There was no moment of silence. There were screams from the pit and a guy far stage left who screamed, “SMOKE POT”. I’ve never wanted to punch a total stranger more than at that moment.

Elise was having a hard time seeing, she also immediately noted the lack of energy from the singer and the cigarette smoke was getting to her. She offered to go stand in line to buy us a couple beers. She waited in line for half an hour and when she was two people away from ordering, the concession stands were closed. At 10 p.m. beer sales were closed.

Cigarettes and the smell of marijuana and the drunk people — now I understand why Kenny G. gained so much notoriety. It’s the likes of adult contemporary who us 30-somethings turn to when we can no longer stand the wafts of patchouli and pot, the sight of strangers’ sweat, exposed skin and tattoos that will be the source of regret in six months, or the notion of irritated and anxious crowds who strive to be entertained.

There were a few of us out there: the long-time fans who never bothered with cultivating a MySpace identity. I nodded and they nodded back. We were the ones who also left before the encore and listened to the final song as we whisked back to our cars to avoid the crowd before the show ended.

3 Replies to “Beautiful letdown”

  1. Oh, that sucks that Cynthia Woods has turned facist. I have seen most of the best concerts of my life there, starting with Erasure’s Wild Tour when I was 12. I’ve also had many concerts (there and elsewhere), ruined by asshole “fans”. Tim and I went to see Radiohead at Cynthia Woods in 2001 and it was amazing, the best concert I’ve ever seen. We had a great view of the stage and it seemed the entire hill was in unison, letting the music just wash over us. We went back to see Radiohead a couple of years later and it all changed. The audience didn’t seem to want to be there. We were further in the back because we’d come directly from Austin and it seemed that everyone behind us was calling their friends and holding their phones up, “Dude, I’m at Radiohead!”, not paying one lick of attention to the music. Radiohead was awesome as always, but it didn’t have the same magical quality. Very disappointing. Why do people pay 45 bucks for a ticket and then not even listen to the music? I just don’t get it. And if that makes me old, so be it!

  2. I neglected to mention the phones… instead of a sea of lighters, there was a sea of flip phones. Many were taking photos while others were doing the same, “Dude, I’m at Tool!”

  3. It’s the sign of the times: Bush is president, Ann Richards is dead, Josh recalls the good ol’ days, and pepperoni pizza gives me heartburn.

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