Words + Photos by Bobby Talamine
Even with an early downpour of lightning and thunder, day two of Chicago Open Air had all the bands perform. No cancellations.
Alien Weaponry was the first up to perform. Their drummer started the show with a Maori War Dance and chant from behind the drum kit and displayed a tribe's pride--showing the unity and strength within this band. For such young dudes, they have presence times ten.With some of their songs spoken in their Maori language from Waipu New Zealand, it was a short and riveting set.
The Black Dahlia Murder were next up, and presented great guitar playing from Brandon Ellis and Brian Eschbach. Although in regards to vocalist Trevor Stmad, things fell flat. Almost like a phoned-in set from these guys.
Wicked as wicked comes was Fever 333’s set. Definitely one of the highlights of the day, with all three band members going apeshit at any given moment. Unpredictable to the core, making the most of their 35 minute - ish set, with vocalist Jason Aalon Butler worked his way into the crowd, and on top of the roof of the two story building stage left to belt out the last song. Drummer Aric Improta did lots more than drumming by jumping around and standing on top of his kit to get the crowd riled up (as if it's even necessary). Guitarist Stephen Harrison also worked his way into the crowd playing guitar in the middle of a heavy mosh pit. Fever 333. Crazy. Nutty. Awesome.
The next band on the lineup was In this Moment. In This Moment’s set was like a scene from Spinal Tap. It took what seemed like forever for the roadies to adjust and tweak the stage props, fog machines, and whatnot. And for what? To open the set with a David Coverdale / Whitesnake tune, followed by a hallowed occult instrumental to actual band--equals awkward. And for what?
Lead singer of In This Moment, Maria Brink, has the vocal chops, but with the stage cluttered with too many distracting props, it was hard for her to maintain the audience’s attention. Even for a brief 40 minutes.
Onto the mighty Gojira, lead by brothers Joe and Mario Duplantier. The Duplantier brothers--who hail from Bayonne, France--brought the fierceness like Meshuggah did on day one. Gojira was relentless from beginning to end with a vertical pyro...I mean jesus! No skimping with these guys. Gojira: caffeinated times ten.
Then comes The Cult, lead by Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy with accompaniment by drummer John Tempesta, which was cool. But talk about falling flat...what a bummer. Yeah, the music's still there, sort of. Hard to screw up and sink the ship with Billy Duffy, that's for sure. What was irritating during the show was mid performance, Astbury expressed trepidation with Chicago fans by explaining the lack of community and brotherhood he felt from Chicago to a rather tepid audience. With the lukewarm enthusiasm from said band, which for all intents and purposes- is flat with a capital "F.” News flash to Ian Astbury, don't piss off Chicago. Come to play, and do your damnest to try to sing upper register if at all possible please.
Now all things TOOL. Sophisticated with a simple and striking production, aided by vivid vertical LED backdrops, and solid musicianship still intact. Danny Carey came out in his trusty Kansas basketball jersey to the drumkit, followed by Justin Chancellor in a fine vest and long sleeve shirt, looking clean cut, but played as wicked and as heavy as ever. Hermit looking Adam Jones came onto the stage, hoodie up, all eyes down to guitar pedals and ready to go. Maynard James Keenan was the last one to get onstage, costumed up from head to toe in a wicked leather jacket emblazoned on the front with some alien ish cartoon, a red and black checkered tight fitting pants, sporting a shaved head mohawk of mohawks, and wicked joker makeup that gives you the feeling of dark and sinister. Keenan’s get up screamed “don't fuck with me.”
I'm exhausted in writing that, without even getting to the music of TOOL, opening with "Aenema" and "Learn to Swim" in refrain over and over and over. I'm in full bore, with Tool heading directly into "The Pot," followed by "Parabola" and "Descending"--a new song Tool has added to their setlist--along with one other new song "Invincible," which is appropriately titled.
Again - utter exhaustion from this lengthy edit for JBTV Music Television, but nevertheless...TOOL rules.
A splendid day of assorted metal, with a few hiccups, but still - oh- so- cool.