Tool at the Crypto Arena

Photos by Alex Kluft

"Put your phone away, dickhead! Seriously."

In short, I appreciated Maynard James Keenan’s style. Let's not lose ourselves in Tool's strict no-phone policy – which did result in security flashing far too many bright lights in the faces of innocent concertgoers at the Crypto Arena. Instead, let’s focus on the fact that Keenan is asking audiences to keep their eyes on not only the experience but his bandmates. 

Why stare at a phone when bassist Justin Chancellor is rocking his socks off or drummer Danny Carey hulks over the stage? Truly, the members of Tool tower on the stage, each in their own unique ways. Guitarist Adam Jones is practically a keeper of the peace on stage, a mellow figure in the controlled chaos of Keenan’s vocals and the eye-popping visuals. Jones’ playing was pure lushness and, in a rare instance at Los Angeles’ downtown stadium, a treat to the ears. 

After 30 years together and five studio albums under their belt, Tool is a true stadium-playing band. Their music calls for a major presentation. There’s a story unfolding at a Tool show, largely thanks to artist Can Buyukbeber. Buyukbeber brings visual splendor and horror to accompany the booming performance. The imagery is nothing short of hypnotic, with Keenan often performing as a silhouette to the apocalyptic imagery that screams the 1990s and 2024 melting together as one nostalgia yet fresh experience.

In the selfie capital of the world, Los Angeles, Tool achieved a tangible immediacy. All eyes and ears were focused on every note, move, and image. A Tool show is a full-on, all five senses and beyond experience, in which present eyes and ears are rewarded. 

By the intermission, during which Tool allowed the audience and themselves to gather for the next chapter, ears are already ringing. Eyes are already stinging. And you’re ready for more joy and pain, something Tool is well-versed in as performers and storytellers. On a cool night in Los Angeles, in the unfortunate year of 2024, Tool’s not-so-merry roll through the apocalypse tale hit hard and served as both an escape and a mirror of reality.