Saturday night, tens of thousands of people filled San Bernardino’s Glen Helen Amphitheater to hear Tool play a song about California sinking into the sea. While the band hasn’t released a note of new music in 11 years, their audience has only snowballed, and the group used a date on their current tour to play their largest non-festival headlining show ever. For their part, they delivered a whopping 15-song set – their longest of the tour.
This victory lunge also meant a long parade of high-profile alterna-metal opening acts that played from the broiling afternoon to just around sundown. These bands, like Tool, found unlikely success in the unlikely Nineties performing headbanger fare with varying degrees of uncompromising strangeness.
The Melvins played a cubist metal version of the Beatles’ “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” with disorienting held notes. Screeching and jabbering and crooning vocalist Mike Patton of Fantômas performed an ADD ballet cycling between two vocal mics before playing a demented version of Henry Mancini’s music to 1963 film Charade.
Clutch’s Neil Fallon strutted…