Could it be that a Tool Concert is a perfect Advent experience? I’m likely to say "yes" tonight. My sons, Aaron and Shad, hooked me up with Tool’s music several years ago. Their incredible musicianship and powerful music impressed me. Well, tonight at the Idaho Center (it doubles as a Horse Venue for Rodeos and such), Tool returned to the Boise area. It was their last leg of the 10,000 Days tour. Tell you the truth…I was impressed. The complexities of their music are apparent…their musicianship, impeccable…I told Aaron and his girlfriend, Jo, that it was like sitting in a private jam session with studio musicians…musical craftsmen to say the least. They didn’t necessarily "play" to the crowd…they played FOR the crowd but not in a "showy" manner…the music was center stage. Maynard, their singer, said only four things during the entire show…which underscored my longtime pet peeve about concerts…we are there to hear music not sermons, musings, or stupid talk. My mantra: "just shut up and play". Anyway, on to Advent…I told Aaron and Jo what they already knew…Tools music, though powerful, is also lyrically very bleak. As artists, all I am drawn to is their worldview and what they see when they look at life. I’ve said it before, all art is NOT value neutral…it is saying something about the way the artist understands the world. Tool’s view of reality is just that…real. It is mostly pain-filled…but it depicts a life that many people know. Take for example one of my favorite Tool tunes, "Vicarious". Fact is, I play a bit of it at the beginning of every Re/New-YLI Podcast (check those out on ITunes or at the Re/New website):
Eye on the TV ’cause tragedy thrills me
Whatever flavor It happens to be
"Killed by the husband"
"Drowned by the ocean"
"Shot by his own son"
"She used the poison in his tea
[and / he] kissed [him / her] goodbye"
That’s my kind of story
It’s no fun til someone dies
Don’t look me at like I am a monster
Frown out your one face but with the other
Stare like a junkie Into the TV
Stare like a zombie While the mother, holds her child
Watches him die, Hands to the sky cryin,
"Why, oh why?"
Cause I need to watch things die
From a distance
Live while the whole world dies
You all need it too – don’t lie.
Not a great picture of life, huh? But how many of us know people addicted to violence. The average child will watch 1000’s of murders and killings in movies and television during their lives. Some get to the point where it drives them to despair. We may not like the lyrics and the picture they paint but you can’t deny the reality of what Tool is communicating. Interesting, I told Aaron and Jo that the concert tonight may have been a good Advent experience…Advent is a traditional time in the liturgical year where Christ-followers in community "wait" upon the Lord. It is a time of anticipation…texts during this time are filled with the words of the Prophets not only assuring the people of Israel and Judah about a coming Deliverer but also telling them about the personal and communal transformation that will occur once He appears. That’s why we sing, "O come, O come Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel". There is something powerful to anticipate…there is a need we all have to find hope. That is why we follow the star to Bethlehem…maybe God does have words and actions of Deliverance and Hope through the promise of the Messiah. Maybe in a vision of the reality of life, we come face to face with the need to cry out, "how long, O Lord will we suffer?" "How long until you take action?" Jesus is not only God’s Word about creation but also God’s Word of Hope and Promise to a suffering world. In this way, maybe Tool’s bleakness was a good way to prepare myself for the coming of the King, the Lord of Hope. As Psalm 72 says,
Give the king thy judgments, O God, and thy
righteousness unto the king’s son.He shall judge thy people with righteousness, and thy
poor with judgment.
The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills,
He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of
the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor.
They shall fear thee as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout
He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that
water the earth.
In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so
long as the moon endureth.
He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto
the ends of the earth. Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve
For he shall deliver the needy when he
crieth; the poor also, and him
that hath no helper.He shall spare the poor and needy, and shall save the souls of the
He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence: and precious
shall their blood be in his sight. And he shall live, and to him shall be given of the gold of Sheba:
prayer also shall be made for him continually; and daily shall he be
praised. There shall be an handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the
mountains; the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon: and they of the
city shall flourish like grass of the earth.
His name shall endure for ever: his name shall be continued as long
as the sun: and men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him
blessed.Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel, who
only doeth wondrous things. And blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole
earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen.