A Perfect Circle, Sunna Austin Music Hall, September 15

Live Shots

A Perfect Circle, Sunna

Austin Music Hall, September 15

Thanks to the cult of personality that surrounds Maynard Keenan, an Austin appearance by the Tool frontman's side project A Perfect Circle sold out about as fast as Russell Crowe's 30 Odd Foot of Grunts at Stubb's. Since capacity shows need little advertising, some Toolmeisters didn't even know it was happening. Fortunately for them, nothing did. Openers Sunna, five English lads with an Alice in Chains fixation, were third-rate, leapfrogging Stone Temple Pilots and going straight to Creed. Starting with the leadoff track from their Astralwerks debut One Minute Science, imprinted with Massive Attack's Melankolic logo, Sunna demonstrated how poorly the hip label invested its earnings from franchise cash cow Fatboy Slim; both live and on LP, "I'm Not Trading" was the highlight. By the time "One Conditioning" closed out the band's overlong set 30 minutes later, the scientific method was clearly not working. No less a bad omen was the Cure fogging up the darkness when the lights were extinguished for A Perfect Circle precisely at 9pm. When the curtain rose to reveal a pair of pajama-clad women playing strip hearts (?), war (?), and getting down to bra and panties before the lights went out again and the band came on, "Fascination Street" suddenly counted the Austin Music Hall an occupant. Evoking Iggy Pop with a long, blond wig, Keenan paced in a twisted crouch during the moody, stonewalling opener "Magdalena," and though the 13-song set got better as the next hour wore on, it was never as lowdown as the Toolster's low-slung lycra tights. "Good evening, y'all," said the Bill Hicks-loving singer. "You guys are rambunctious." Really they weren't, not when Eighties-era, minor-chord moodpieces like "Orestes," from A Perfect Circle's recent Mer de Nom, are better for anti-depressants than they are moshing. "That song was about forgiveness" announced Ferguson at one point. "This is a song about masturbation." A subject close to his crotch, "Thinking of You" featuring the vocalist in fondling-flagranto mode. "3 Libras" found its equilibrium in a punishing Tool-like groove, but ended abruptly since the band seemed eager to finish the set. Bastardizing the Cure's "Lovesong" with some Ozzy Osbourne before ending with its single "Judith," A Perfect Circle summed up the current generation of metalheads in one song: stuck between Black Sabbath's heaven and the Cure's hell.

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