Ænima – A Tool Experience (De Casino, Sint-Niklaas)

Recently the living gods that are Tool announced a new tour and the Dutch date sold out in a matter of minutes and if you want to see them in Belgium you’ll have to visit Rock Werchter, where they’ve played a legendary gig as well 12 years ago. We already had a taste at De Casino, Sint-Niklaas with Belgian tribute band Ænima (****1/2).

A Tool EXPERIENCE

First off let me start by telling you that covering even the simplest of Tool songs isn’t easy. So playing a one-piece two hour set of songs by a band that changes rhythm as much fourteen times in one song is quite the challenge! Of course, if we look at the members of the band this shouldn’t be much of a problem. For example on guitar and drums we find Jay and Joris. Both members of legendary surf rock band Los Bastardos Del Bronco (with Mike from Black Swarm). Accompanied by stoic, yet ultra talented bassist Peter (from Offworld) and singer Mario who could very well be Maynard J. Keenan‘s understudy. Ænima delivers much more than an average coverband or a tribute band. As they say themselves: They’re a Tool Experience!

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Knowledge is key!

After mastering the notes and tweaking their sounds for almost three years Ænima finally introduced their full set. A two hour set complete with self made AND official Tool visuals, taking the listener (and viewer) on a psychedelic, poly-rhythmic journey. Apart from learning the songs these guys really did their homework! As they opened with The Grudge the band proved from the first minute that they were completely in sync and showed what the crowd was in for for the rest of the night. Mario entered the stage with a black hoodie and a black mask, hiding in the dark shadows of the corner of the stage. Knowing that Maynard historically suffered from severe stage fright (even playing sets facing the backdrop instead of the public) AND he’s known for his odd dress ups this is subtle, yet deep reference to the history of Tool and their knowledge thereof.

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What a show!

The sound seemed a bit off at the start, but the engineer skillfully solved it all in the first song. Next up was my all time Tool favourite Sober. Mario pulled his mask off in sync with the music and all hell broke loose over De Casino. Despite Jay claiming he had some troubles with his setup, no one in the crowd noticed a thing and he didn’t miss one note! De Casino was packed to the rafters with about 400 people partying, singing along or generally being in trance by the enchanting tones of Tool. A few details certainly cranked up the show’s value. For instance the singer interacted with the public from time to time, sincerely showing the band’s gratitude towards the people that showed up. Also, this wasn’t just a best of. they didn’t settle for Schizm, Sober and Fortysix & 2. No sir, they really went all out. I even saw DJ Cornholio from Faar Out Crew and long time Tool fanatic front row going bat shit crazy. That means something!

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The Devil in the details

I can not emphasize enough how much detail and skill went in the making of this show. Three years of rehearsals, polishing and tweaking sounds, gathering and even building props, getting, making and mixing visuals, … With stunning results te be fair. The Devil’s in the details and these guys sure know that. On Eulogy for example Mario pulled out a megaphone, which was welcomed back to the stage for Stinkfist. He also managed to nail the clean vocal intro on The Pot and of course they couldn’t leave the song that inspired their name Ænema untouched. Here Mario put on an old gas masked modified with red lazer eyes. Another reference to Maynard‘s dress ups? Either way, combined with the smoke on stage and over the crowd he got some awesome visual effects and the people loved it!

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Setlist

  • The Grudge
  • Sober
  • Jimmy
  • H.
  • The Pot
  • Vicarious
  • Eulogy
  • Schism
  • Parabol(A)
  • Prison Sex
  • Stinkfist
  • Ænema
  • Opiate
  • Fortysix & 2
  • Eon + Lateralus
  • ENCORE: Hooker with a Penis

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Check ’em out!

All I can say in conclusion is: Go check these guys out! And seeing as they’ve got bookings up until the end of 2019 you’ll most certainly get the chance. I was there at Werchter twelve years ago, I was there for Ænima‘s first tryout in a small bar in 2015, I was there at their last tryout in Antwerp with Bleach (Nirvana tribute) and I was there now, at the official introduction and they’ll only keep approaching the original closer and closer until all differences have faded. So get some tickets, enter the venue and just dive into the experience. Let them lead you into this typical post trance and I’ll tell you: Two hours will pass as if they were minutes.

Find them at their new website!
Check the photos here:
https://www.grimmgent.com/aenima-a-tool-experience-de-casino-sint-niklaas-photo