Tool tribute band plays today


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mp3 sample: Opiate


Flashing multicolored lights, rotating laser beams, and video clips of the band Tool create a powerful aura for the audience — this is what is expected during an Opiate show. The Tool cover band tries to give the crowd a replication of the progressive rock group's performances when it takes the stage.

Justin Blumenkamp, Opiate's drummer, said the atmosphere of its shows allow the crowd to encounter the art of the music.

"The lights and the video are a huge part of the show," Blumenkamp said. "Not only do the audience members get to experience the music, they get to experience the art behind it."

Opiate, named after Tool's first album, will perform today at 8 p.m. at Gabe's, 330 E. Washington St. Admission is $8.

Tool's shows are characterized by the use of lasers, light work, and video. To make its performances more similar to Tool's shows, the Opiate band members saved up money and purchased comparable equipment and hired a technology manager. The main focus of Opiate's performances is the videos, which are synchronized with the set list and feature clips from Tool's live shows.

The cover band from St. Louis will play a variety of songs from Tool's many albums but will focus on the tracks not commonly played at Tool concerts anymore.

"We mix it up, we play the popular stuff, but we also have the tendency to surprise people and play the more complicated stuff," said Michael Newman, the group's guitarist. "We want the audience to have a true Tool experience rather than a popular experience."

The four musicians of Opiate were playing music together in St. Louis when someone told them they sounded like Tool — they then decided to create a tribute band. Opiate has been together for a year and has been on tour since October.

Because all members of Opiate are Tool fans, they said their shows are meant to honor the original band.

"We might be the musicians playing up on stage, but we are just like the audience," said Tim Stuart, the band's lead singer.

Opiate bassist Aaron Kinney said the members try to replicate Tool's shows to pay tribute to its great music.

"We literally are just playing tribute to a band that we admire and look up to," the 24-year-old said. "We do our best to put on as closest a show to theirs as possible."

Opiate band members also try to recreate the Tool band members' extreme outfits for shows by wearing wigs and face paint.

Blumenkamp said the costumes add details to the show and demonstrate the close attention Opiate pays to the details of Tool's performances.

Some of the band members' favorite memories of touring involve the audience's passion for the music. During one memorable show that Opiate played in Columbia, Mo., five fans held Kinney to the ground and tried to pull down his pants.

"Everyone in the audience is touched by the music," Kinney said. "People start mosh pits, head banging, and losing their voices."

Newman and Stuart agreed, saying the crowd shows a lot of emotion during performances, matching the feeling of the music.

"You look out on the crowd and see people meditating, and it's a beautiful thing watching people getting into the music," he said.

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