Tool: prog-metal legends coming to the Springs in June 

click to enlarge MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper

All right, Colorado Springs. Get ready to pry open your third eyes, practice drumming polyrhythms on your knees and... I don’t know, look at a bunch of image search results of Fibonacci spirals? This is not a drill; tickets are now on sale for the June 19 Broadmoor World Arena appearance of alt-metal/prog-metal legends Tool.

Even with their mystique of composing a complex, artful brand of heavy music, Tool probably doesn’t need much of an introduction. Their first four LPs are certified at least platinum (with 1996’s Ænima reaching triple-platinum status in both the U.S. and Australia), and the band can boast four Grammy wins in their trophy case. Their music and surrounding aesthetic have garnered a dedicated and vocal fan following, along with critical praise. Their latest album, 2019’s Fear Inoculum, which arrived after a 13-year silence on the recording front, was met with acclaim and immediately topped the U.S. Billboard 200.

Ubiquity aside, Tool remains a fascinating musical entity. Certainly for their music — drummer Danny Carey’s technical wizardry, combined with guitarist Adam Jones and bassist Justin Chancellor’s delicate-to-crushing textures, can prog out with the best of them — while singer Maynard James Keenan’s rich voice provides an immediate, evocative entry point for the listener.(Even when he’s singing about aliens, Bill Hicks, metaphysics, or whatever else.) I can distinctly recall their music being referred to in the ’90s as “the thinking man’s metal” in critical circles, but I’d argue they’re just as much a prog-rock voice for the people, as their popular successes would indicate. After all, even if tracks such as “Forty Six & 2” or “Schism” implement complex meters, they absolutely have some hooks to them.
On the other hand, Tool’s somewhat esoteric image and career trajectory are equally of interest, especially in the current, digital-ruled musical landscape. For all their perceived inaccessibility and long-standing ambivalence toward the music industry as a whole, they actually stand as one of the few acts of a bygone era to persist and thrive on their own terms, finally allowing their music to be accessible on streaming platforms in August 2019. (This had record-shattering results on Billboard and international charts, with each piece of their discography re-charting.) It seems safe to assume that the band isn’t going to disappear into the shadows anytime soon... unless, of course, they feel like doing so themselves.

In the meantime, fans of the folkier realms can look forward to the Friday, March 6, installment of the Friends House Concerts series, featuring Willy Porter. The guitarist and singer/songwriter, who has shared stages with the likes of Tori Amos, Paul Simon, Sting and Jeff Beck, has earned acclaim for his soulful songwriting and Leo Kottke-inspired acoustic fretwork. His latest LP, Mnemonic, was released just weeks ago, so attendees can likely look forward to enjoying fresh performances of Porter’s latest sophisticated works.

Also on the Rocky Mountain Highway front, the lineup for the 2020 edition of the MeadowGrass music festival is set to be unveiled live at Rasta Pasta on Saturday, March 7, at 4 p.m., so local music lovers can get the good word straight from the source and start making their 12th-annual tent-related plans for Memorial Day weekend.

Finally, also on March 6, you certainly shouldn’t miss out on An Evening with Iggy Igloo at Manitou Springs’ Armadillo Ranch, formerly known as The Ancient Mariner. It’s always a joy to experience the colorful and multifaceted sonic worlds of multi-instrumentalist Iggy Igloo, and you can get into the mood in advance by checking out his latest recordings, The Oracle and IGLU, which were both released in late 2019. Emcee and producer Elimence will also perform.


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