A Perfect Circle. Photo: Eric Scott Russell
I don’t know why I’m always thrown off seeing a rock show in a venue such as Kingsbury Hall or the Capitol Theatre. Something about the glitz and glamour in contrast to the dingy concert tees and occasional bout of body odor throws my concert sensors off for some reason. All of the people were the same and the music was the same, I guess it must be the shiny seats and the retiree ushers showing me to my seat. Too bad I didn’t have a coat to check. I guess my main mistake is expecting anything to be “ordinary” when seeing a headlining band consisting of Maynard James Keenan of Tool, Billy Howerdell of Ashes Divide, James Iha of Smashing Pumpkins, Josh Freese on drums and Matt Mcjunkins on bass. Collectively, they have quite an out-of-the-ordinary resume.
When the opening band, Red Bacteria Vacuum, started out I was pretty sure that the audience thought they were seeing something completely crazy. Red Bacteria Vacuum consists of three spunky ladies from Japan playing loud and fast punk. The crowd stood and gawked for some time and there wasn’t so much as a head nod to be seen. This was unfortunate, because they were good. Stylistically they’re nestled someplace in the mix of Hole and The Mission. I know this sounds like an odd mix, but coming from four-foot tall girls with pigtails from Japan, it makes total sense. As they played, the crowd warmed up and seemed more open to the sounds belting from the stage. The audience’s enthusiasm drifted when the girls incorporated a lesson in Japanese into the show with their poppy song “Enso Wa Tanoshii,” but they didn’t let the slump keep them down as they enthusiastically finished their driven set.
A Perfect Circle came out to a camouflage netting covered stage with military shipping crates and mortar shells. When the light effects started, the netting was brilliantly lit as it reflected colors and beams of light being shot from above and below. Before seeing the band, I hadn’t put much thought into their name, but as they played it became clear. A band so rich with talent surely has potential for battling egos, so what better way to solve that than to create a harmonic sound in which everything is blended so well that no one really sticks out. Throw Maynard, James and Josh in the back row on platforms while Billy and Matt are in front off to the sides, no acrobatics or extreme solos, no lead––just music. Billy and Maynard’s vocals are so instrumental that they blend in perfectly with the other musicians on stage, not with their words, but with their sounds. The mutual effort in itself is circular, or unending. I was floored by the wave of noise flowing from the stage as they played material from all of their albums such as “The Outsider,” “The Hollow,” and a dramatic rendering of “Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of War Drums.” The songs ran seamlessly together with little break for more than quick guitar changes that occurred during momentarily dimmed lights. Little was said until the show neared its end when Maynard took a moment to explain his feelings on fake encore songs. They finished their set with a cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Fiddle and Drum” and “By and Down.”
Check out more photos of the concert here.