The other 10 hours of the River’s Edge Music Festival on Saturday did not exactly support organizers’ claims that this would be a bigger, better, bolder kind of rock fest than what the Twin Cities have seen before. In 75 minutes flat, though, Tool pretty well proved their claims.
Its only concert of the summer -- and supposedly its only US date for the rest of the year – the L.A.-reared, prog-crunch metal maestros were far and away the reason River’s Edge drew an impressive 25,000 fans on its opening day. You couldn’t swing a corndog from the concession stands without hitting somebody in a Tool T-shirt. That’s not to say there weren’t some excellent bands who produced some memorable moments Saturday, but the day belonged to Tool. Period.
The quartet pretty much stuck to its best-known songs in its abbreviated set, which started right at 8:45 p.m. on the nose and ended just shy of the 10 p.m. noise curfew for the fest. What punctuality for a metal band. You could still hear Sublime’s amplifiers humming on the opposite stage when Tool started up, literally not wasting a single second. Lingering daylight stymied the band’s visual trickery at first, but the opening tune “Hooker With a Penis” was freaky enough without the creepy video accompaniment. “Stinkfist” set the crowd on fire three songs in, and then that’s when the real show began.
Tool’s artful film accompaniment and spectacular light show is impressive enough in just a hockey arena, as Twin Cities fans well know. We finally got to see Tool Show Inc. outdoors, where it went to a whole other level with the festival’s towering stage and an uncanny backdrop that included the city skyline, a mayfly swarm around the river and a reddish crescent moon above. Throw in the fog machines, laser lights and an onstage juggler/pole-twirler that all started pumping away madly during “Forty-Six & 2,” and it was nothing short of jaw-dropping. Even for those of us who weren’t stoned.
“Either this is acid is really strong, or there was just a juggler on stage,” singer Maynard James Keenan said afterward (you can’t call him a frontman, since he stood at the back of the stage, as always). Here’s the whole set list that Keenan and his bandmates delivered Thursday:
Hooker With a Penis / Jambi / Stinkfist / Pushit / Schism / Forty-Six & 2 / Lateralus / PARABOLA / Aenima
Here are a couple more highlights from the opening day of River's Edge…
HOMETOWN BOYS DONE GOOD: Motion City Soundtrack performed late afternoon on the smaller Chipotle Stage, which wasn’t exactly a premier slot. They came off as arguably the second-most-revered band in the lineup, though. The crowd bulked up in size for their set, and outside of Tool and maybe Sublime there weren’t any bigger audience singalongs than during their older favorites such as “Her Words Destroyed My Planet” and “Broken Heart.” The punky power-poppers also made a good case for songs off their just-released fifth album “Go,” especially “Timelines,” which frontman Justin Pierre rightfully admitted is some of his rawest, to-the-bone songwriting moments yet.
FAR REMOVED: The Lynx Stage on Raspberry Island is a long hike away from the rest of the fest, and it felt like an entirely different world when disco soul-pop revelers the Scissor Sisters performed on it just about an hour before Tool’s set. Their buoyant, near-giddy party tracks such as “I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’” and the new “Baby Come Home” were as warmly received as co-singer Ana Matronic’s speech against Minnesota’s proposed marriage amendment. Opener Rye Rye, an M.I.A. protégé, also helped get the party started with her dance tracks that sound like a more poppy, electronic-styled update of Missy Elliot’s classic sound.