"All over the TA boards are gripes about the various show's tickets being unavailable the instant they went on sale. Within minutes from that point, you could find easily one-tenth of many venues' seating available for sale on ebay and various ticket resellers. Asking prices have ranged from $100-$700 per ticket, and I've seen auctions closing at an average of $250/ticket, and much more in several cases. The tickets were $66; $55 in Dallas. What percentage of that goes to the band? The tickets resell for up to ten times that. What percentage of that goes to the band? I think it would be lucrative to look into scalping your own tickets. You have fans with enough desperation and/or disposable income to be spending far more than I see charged for any of the mountains of Tool-related merchandise available through various official channels. You guys should look into auctioning off your shows instead of selling them first-come, first-serve. Who needs to keep making albums after that?"
An anonymous email that I received, although I suspect it was from a band member.
"SO YOU THOUGHT YOU MIGHT LIKE TO GO TO THE SHOW..."
But they're all small venues light years away from where you live and the shows all sold out in a matter of minutes because the ticket agencies held back most of the choice seats to sell to those blood-sucking scalpers who want to charge you a tattooed arm and a tattooed leg, and because there are no pre-sales on the fan site that you only joined for pre-sales, and because you haven't updated your email address for a while so you missed out on the random drawing for a chance to purchase a pair of good seats from the fan site that you only joined for a chance to purchase a pair of good seats in a random drawing, you're now threatening to seek revenge on the band by either boycotting the album or downloading the entire new CD and selling it to all your friends for $5.00 (which you're almost certain is merely the decoy album that was written, recorded, mixed, mastered, manufactured with a booklet of stereoscopic artwork/photography and distributed all over the world in an attempt to thwart the activities of a few would-be bootleggers).
Of course not everyone bitched and moaned about the huge lines of people with their Starbucks lattés, the bloodsuckers, the non-existent presales, and the more intimate setting of the warm-up shows being only for those who are wealthy. There was this one girl in Texas who managed to get a ticket, even though I told her not to worry about it - that she could go to the Dallas show as my guest (first having to prove to her that I wasn't uglier than a lard bucket full of armpits). Still, after reading the hundreds, nay thousands of emails from disgruntled fans ranting and raving about the illegal activities of the ticket brokers/scalpers as they, themselves waited to download 10,000 Days from their home computer, I wondered how in the world this girl was able to get a ticket (hoping that the purdy thing wasn't going to be missing an arm and a leg when I came a calling), when it was virtually impossible to do so? From what she later told me, she had picked up the phone, called the local ticket agency and purchased a ticket with her credit card.
Such was the Herculean feat that guaranteed her admission to the Tool show (and in case you're wondering, the 'miraculous' ticket was later given to a lucky fan standing outside the venue, because this girl... this girl who showed such ingenuity and resourcefulness - picking up that phone and calling the local ticket agency, didn't need it after all, she being my guest). Of course, it didn't hurt that she was GOD.
One of the biggest gripes in the negative email I received concerning the ticket situation with the small venue shows was that the band caters to the rich... that only wealthy people could afford the exorbitant prices asked by the ticket resellers and on eBay auctions and not the band's TRUE fans. It probably never occurred to these people that it is actually possible to be rich and to still be a TRUE Tool fan. You can be successful in life... even drive a BMW M5 while talking business on your BlackBerry on your way to have sushi with that girl in her third date silky Cosabella thong with the big tag sticking out by the crack in her ass and still be a TRUE Tool fan. Truly, you can.
Granted, these people of relative affluence might not 'know' that 10.000 Days is merely a decoy album like you do, or that "Wings for Marie", "10,000 Days" and "Viginti Tres" are meant to be synched (played together) to make a super 'hidden' track, or that a very limited number of copies of the live DVD were released on 6.6.06 but can only be purchased by those giving the correct password (or is it a special handshake?) to sales clerks in certain record stores, but still, let's not conclude that they're not TRUE fans.
Also, on the subject of scalpers, there's something else you should know. And that is simply this: There's nothing new about ticket scalping (and it's certainly not unique to Tool concerts, bonanza that it obviously is). I remember wanting to see Pink Floyd perform "The Wall" live back in February of 1980 (or 81) at the Memorial Sports Arena in Los Angeles. Having recently moved to southern California from some Mid-western cornfield where I understood well (all you Toolies in the boonies!) that bands like Pink Floyd would perform elaborate staged productions like "The Wall" in my small hometown when pigs live in a sty... I mean FLY, I felt my chances were pretty good in L.A. Little did I know that there would still be plenty of hoops to jump through. Because of its complex staging, "The Wall" was only performed in four cities: London, Dortmund, Long Island, and Los Angeles. And due to the quadraphonic sound system, all the props, special effects, animation projectors etc., there was a high demand for a limited number of seats which I had an inkling would mostly go to the rich industry types, mostly (especially the better ones). But to make matters even worse, tickets could only be purchased by mail order - with a cashier's check or a money order, but absolutely no cash or personal checks (a bewildering concept to a kid who had just kicked the southern Illinois sod from his boots). But rumor had it that there would be some tickets for sale with green at the venues on the night of the shows. So, if memory serves me correct, my brother and I stood in a long line (without Starbucks lattes!) on three separate show nights in hopes of getting one (imagine how hard it was to time your 'shrooms under these conditions, let alone the legendary three drops which escape from the nose of a corpse hanging upside down.) Unable to purchase at ticket from the box office, we had little choice but to pay the proverbial piper.
That's right, a 1980's scalper, which we gladly did on the show's final night (and believe me, back then neither of us could afford enough gasoline to ride a mini-bike around a Cheerio).
Taking our seats minutes before Pink the protagonist took to the stage, we found ourselves a wall all right... right behind us... as in the row of seats farthest away from the stage. As Pink insulted his fans by calling them "queers", "coons", "covered with spots" and, far worse, "space cadets" who, if he had his way, would have "all of them shot", a metaphorical cardboard wall was being constructed on the stage - a wall that would soon completely isolate the band from the audience that paid those big bucks for their seats, especially those 'fans' in the front row who were particularly screwed (teehee),
The downward spiral of Pink's mental collapse continued on stage (ah, the trials and tribulation of being a rich and famous rock star) until, eventually, he and the rest of the band were walled off by fake bricks, save for a couple of gaps where Waters and David Gilmour could be seen strumming a guitar while singing (often, off-key) a depressing ballad whilst staring blankly at whatever shit happened to be on a flickering television screen (no TiVo here, folks).
With the vitriolic nature of much of the email directed at Tool for choosing to play a handful of small venue shows (before the larger arena tour begins), I wonder how Pink Floyd's live "Wall" production (four cities only!.. band hidden by a wall!) would go over today - that is with the current mindset exhibited by those "true" Tool fans dashing off email complaints about this and that and everything in-between. Even more so, how would they react to paying their hard earned money to see something like the more experimental 1960's Pink Floyd shows where members of the band rhythmically built a wooden table with hammers and saws during the live performance whereupon they could sit down and leisurely sip cups of tea while a microphone was placed next to the tinny speaker of a cheap transistor radio whose station was randomly selected. I can only image!
If my brother and I wanted to lodge a complaint (which we didn't) about Floyd's live recreation of their powerful concept album, back then, it would have been a hell of a lot harder to let the band members know about it than it is for today's TRUE Tool fans. First, we'd have to get a sheet of paper and a pen with which to compose a letter, next placing it inside an envelope on which we'd have to affix a stamp by licking with our tongue the toxic glue. We'd then have to go outside into the elements and put the letter into a mailbox, mailing it to some nebulous address where we knew it didn't have a rainbow snow cone's chance in the blazing depths of hell of finding its way to Pink who was probably sipping high tea with crumpets in some tranquil English garden. Sure they'd read it... yeah, when pigs live in a sty... I mean Fly! Also, we couldn't threaten to steal the Floydster's masterpiece record and sell it to our friends for $5.00 (unless, that is, we recorded it on a cassette tape... but still SOMEONE would first have to buy the album).
And while we were writing our nasty letter, if we wanted a sandwich, we had to make it ourselves (or get someone else to make it like our mom or girlfriend or wife, or get it from a deli, fast food restaurant or vending machine). We couldn't just hit a few keys on the laptop (as 10,000 Days was being illegally downloaded) and watch it appear perfectly made to order (no mayonnaise!) on the monitor until we reached in and grabbed it. We didn't have cyber sandwiches back in the days of Pink Floyd's "The Wall." And if we wanted a Coke to drink with our sandwich, it would have to be just a regular Coke or crappy cola-flavored fizzy tablets dropped into a glass of tap water. We didn't have vanilla-cherry diet caffeine-free zero-carb natural color Coke like today's criminal downloader's do. But you didn't hear us complaining. Little good would it do anyway over all that goddamn fizzing! While you TRUE Tool fans are loading your i-Pod with 10,000 songs (including the new Tool stuff), the early Floyd generation was busy figuring out, with nothing more than a slide-rule, how to land on the moon to hit golf balls. Think about it. Have you ever had to live on sandwiches of peanut butter, Doritos and Nestles strawberry Quik? And I'm not talking about peanut butter, Doritos, and strawberry Quik sandwiches that materialize via a computer... And while I'm on the subject of sandwiches, did you see what this TRUE Tool fan had for lunch the other day? The person who said he'd videotape himself literally eating the stereoscopic photos of the four individual band members if 10,000 Days was the actual name of the CD and not just a decoy album? Wow, when I saw the Viking Barbie in a store in Japan, I didn't think it was the actual Icelandic Barbie, but still I didn't say I'd eat the Viking Barbie if she, in fact, was the real Icelandic Barbie (or at least videotape myself eating her!)
Decoy album! The majority of you would probably (hopefully) be amazed at the number of emails I received concerning this absurdity. Most went something like: "Heya Blair, why don't you stop the madness on the message boards and just tell people the truth as to whether or not 10,000 Days is the decoy album you mentioned in your Rabelaisian newsletter." Well, I guess I just didn't have the heart. It's like the time back in the 1950s when flying saucer contactee and Ozark Mountains farmer Buck Nelson told reporters that he couldn't see the sun on a recent joyride he took with the aliens because it was "very dark in space." The reporters probably didn't have the heart to tell old Buck the obvious either. However, since there have been, and still are, SO many emails questioning whether or not the masterfully produced new Tool album is merely an elaborate decoy, I will tell you that this sarcastic... derisory... written with a sardonic grin remark that was responsible for all this madness was inspired by an actual event that happened on the "Lateralus" tour (which I recounted in a newsletter back in 2001 e. v.). The gist of it was this: Several hours before a show in Las Vegas, Danny, Justin, myself and a few others were sitting in the parking lot in the back of the venue where the band's black tour coach and trucks were parked when suddenly a kid and his young girlfriend emerged from the bushes. They wandered over to us and asked Danny if he'd seen any of the band members hanging out. "No, but there's their tour bus" Danny replied. "No, that's a fake bus... Just a decoy" the kid said. "The real bus is parked somewhere else" he then told Justin. Perhaps I should have told the kid that a million dollar decoy tour coach wasn't really necessary, much less financially feasible, although the two band members sitting there were decoys... and not the real Danny and Justin, which might be why this TRUE Tool didn't recognize them. (NOTE: Just so you know, the fake, or decoy band members look much more like the real band members these days.)
Which brings me to the curse. What, you didn't think there was a curse placed on all those who illegally downloaded "10,000 Days?" It took a lot of occult expertise and cold beer, but hell yes there's a whopper of a curse. Even dead elephants can tell you that. Without going into too much detail, I can tell you that it isn't a death-spell per say, but that the unusual properties of this particular curse is that it reaches back before the criminal downloader was born, actually altering the individual's DNA, causing them to later become imbeciles and numbskulls just like Moe called Larry or Curly or Shemp before pummeling them... That's right, ignoramuses believing in things like decoy buses and decoy records and stuff. Hell yes there's a curse! Even the girl who went missing in Aruba can tell you that. Those persons connected with the unsealing of King Tut's tomb that later died under mysterious circumstances... well, that was baby shit compared to this curse, and, again, if I wasn't busier than a cat covering crap on a marble floor, I'd tell you what you need to do to remove it. But I will tell you that you're going to need a Catholic Encyclopaedia that doesn't once mention the word "God", the tooth from a certain Uganda beetle, and 10,000 mis-colored Wrigley's doublemint gum wrappers (that aren't green) among other things...
And finally, there was this email entitled LUCK IN NYC? "Hey Blair, I may not have read enough postings on this site and what I am about to say may have already been addressed, but please read on. There was a lot of bitching and moaning regarding the scalpers and non-existent presales for the small shows played here in the US and I'll admit I was pretty pissed off as well. However, that all changed when my boyfriend was given a ticket to the show in NYC on Saturday May 20th. He waited outside, and waited and waited and heard the show begin to start. About three songs in, someone who he thought might have been the tour manager came outside and gave away about eight tickets. Needless to say I was very happy when I got his text message and he was up on the mezzanine with me. And I think he had the best seat in the house, too. We saw many people overpay scalpers and then get turned away at the door because the tickets were fake - this sucks and these scalpers should be punished. I guess my point here is to thank the band for doing this. Apparently the gentleman who handed out the tickets claimed they were a gift from the band and said (as I loosely quote) "don't say they never gave you anything." It was fitting that "The Patient" was included in the set list that evening because often when one is patient, there are rewards to reap."
Well, all I can say is that we didn't have "text messages" back in 1980 (or 81) when my brother and I were trying to get tickets for Pink Floyd's "The Wall."
Photos by Camella Grace