TOOL: Fear Inoculum Tour

In my 23 years of being a TOOL fan and having seen the band live eight times, I can confidently state that the Fear Inoculum Tour harboured their best performance I’ve ever been fortunate enough to experience. And an experience it was.

The Show

The colourfully vibrant visual effects rocked the senses beyond that of any previous concert. Mind bending projections and lasers engulfed the backdrop. Moving lighting rigs pulsed like the music’s heartbeat. And an innovative use of ropes that performed like a transparent screen between the crowd and the stage offered a level of depth that perfectly matched the depth of what I call TOOL’s rock symphonies. After many years of evolution, TOOL’s show has finally become a cohesive unit to make one of the most complete concert experiences ever. 

The only downfall would have been for anyone at extreme viewing angles. Since the visually captivating effects are designed from a front-and-centre vantage point, experiencing what the light and stage technicians intended would require a seat from approximately somewhere in front of the stage. The difference between a head-on view and what the people saw at those extreme angles is the difference between just watching and truly experiencing the show.

The Band

Danny Carey was tight as hell, hitting every beat and carrying the tempo on his shoulders as only a man of his stature and ability can. As one of the best drummers in the world today, Carey had no problem executing with pinpoint precision for the entire length of the set. 

Justin Chancellor’s bass didn’t just add subterranean frequencies, it packaged and air mailed them via a drop kick directly to your chest. To hear a slappy bass or just a low end can be a treat, but Chancellor took the instrument’s potential to a new level.

Adam Jones’ guitar sang every song like Luciano Pavarotti, absolutely nailing all intended notes, noises, and nuances. His artistic creativity was on full display and we as adoring fans lapped it up gratefully.   

Maynard was… well… Maynard. Thunderous vocals, angelic melodies, strange animal like movements made him the icing on the TOOL cake. 

The Finale

TOOL covered songs from every album, save for Undertow, providing a more than acceptable cross-section of their musical catalogue. However, the final song, Stinkfist, was preceded by something not normally seen at TOOL’s shows. Maynard allowed everyone to take out their phones, even jokingly calling for the security to “stand down”. Unfortunately, the irony was probably lost on the majority of the audience, since the song is about the ongoing cycle of boredom and stimulus. Nevertheless, fans itching to use their little digital comfort rectangles didn’t hesitate to whip them out and film the entire closer.

While they were busy screwing around with zooming, getting a steady shot, and optimizing their audio, none of which would ever do it justice, magic was unfolding before their very eyes, as was something else. 

The way the band left the stage felt almost like a farewell. Since the new album is advertised as the culmination of TOOL’s evolutionary music, it’s only fitting for this to be the final tour, with all the members open to go on to whatever other projects they’d like. While I hope this isn’t the case, there was an overwhelming feeling of closure. 

TOOL may very well be done, but the music, the community, and the inspiration of their art will live on. Who knows? Maybe they’ll release a new album in 20 years called “Afterlife” or maybe not.

Cheers to Danny, Adam, Justin, and Maynard for all the great music, and to the stage, lighting, and sound crew for the absolutely mind blowing experience.

The Parallels of the Cannabis and Beer Industries

As the “budding” cannabis industry continues to “blossom”, we are beginning to see the industry take shape. It has already begun to morph into something that I believe mirrors the beer industry.

While I can’t bring price into the conversation because I believe that we still have a lot of head way to make in this brand new industry, I can compare the products, which I definitely have more experience with.

Canopy Growth is the ABInbev of the Canadian cannabis market. They both produce massive amounts of a mediocre product, have huge advertising budgets, and cater to casual smokers, less educated in what comprises “high-quality”. Aurora, which has a couple of good strains, would be the MillerCoors of the industry, and I guess I’ll call Tilray, the Sapporo of cannabis, although I have much more experience with Sapporo’s beer than I do Tilray’s cannabis.

What I find fascinating though is that since the cannabis industry was illegal for so long, the small batch producers haven’t had to wait for some craft product explosion to find their niche. There are plenty of smaller growers that are pumping out some mind-blowing and mind-expanding strains that would leave companies like Canopy and Aurora scratching their heads about how they could possibly compare, if only they actually cared.

These smaller growers aren’t all necessarily on the legal market and I don’t recommend someone put themselves in any legal danger, but the quality level isn’t even comparable to the big players and is far more nuanced in flavour, look, smell, taste, and most importantly – the high.

Over time, I’m sure some other companies will pop up, conglomerates will reshape the landscape, and the education level of the general public will increase. When that happens, I hope that the producers in this exciting new industry give the people what they want instead of just growing mass quantities for the sake of profits.

Legalize it? Don’t mind if I do.

As I was rolling a joint yesterday, something donned on me that I hadn’t fully thought through. I feel that many people are also in the same boat when it comes to this realization. Legalization of recreational cannabis use is on the doorstep, and it is going to change the entire world.

Say what you will about Justin Trudeau, who he is and what he’s done or maybe hasn’t done, but at the end of the day, it is in his first term as Prime Minister that he is setting in place a global revolution. Cannabis legalization is two days away and as the initial first world nation to follow through with this long overdue change, Canada is about to lead the world to the next step in our evolution. Yes, it may sound corny or overstated, but the truth is that we have been sold a bill of lies for decades and we are finally waking up to this realization, and perhaps a number of other mistruths.

Over the next few years, more countries will begin to make sane legal changes, following Canada’s lead. Those countries will gain a profitable industry, including exports and healthy economic circulation, and drastically cut down on the expenses of court back-logging and over-policing a harmless substance when compared to that of alcohol, tobacco, and pharmaceutical drugs. All of which will lead to a more prosperous population.

As citizens of Canada, we have a duty to make sure that we set a positive example for the rest of the world. We must act responsibly by treating cannabis and the newly legal industry with respect, and opening the eyes of world leaders to the undeniable fact that the War on Drugs has been lost and the benefits of this move outweighs any perceived drawbacks.

Let’s take the next step together and be the positive role model and change that the world so desperately needs.

420

Legend has it that the origin of the term 420 comes from some high school students from California in the 70’s. After school they would meet up at 4:20pm to hang out and smoke some of that sweet sweet cheeba. It eventually spread across the US, into Canada, and then across the entire world.

This explanation is far more plausible than the rumours of there being 420 active chemicals in cannabis, or the police code for possession being 420, which it is not.

Today we honour this event on the 20th of April, by getting together with friends and continuing the tradition of indulging in some of the finest herb available. It is a time for peace, love, and positivity. And definitely a few laughs.

So find a friend, light up, and enjoy. And for those who are dead set against it, lighten up, it’s a plant!