My friend Mike is an audio/engineering/electronics geek who sometimes prattles on for hours about all sorts of things I don't really understand, like patchbays, capacitors, resistors, transformers, connectors, tubes and transistors. Sometimes I'll interrupt him to say something like, "Hey, is it dangerous to breathe those fumes?" and he'll kind of chuckle and say, "Oh, don't worry about me," and I'll say, "I wasn't, actually. I was worried about me." This is how it was going the other night when he suddenly said something that caught my attention. He was talking about microphones and phasing and phantom power supplies and how if you have this and this and then this happens, then you have "a perfect circle." Thinking, perhaps, that this is where the band whom I love got their name, I tried once more to understand what a perfect circle refers to, at which point, Mike started talking about X and Y coordinates and waves and harmonics, and then I looked at A Perfect Circle's website, which says the name refers to friendship, so I guess it doesn't matter anyway.
But still, wouldn't it be cool if the name had some secret electronic meaning? I still think maybe it does. I just don't understand what that meaning means.
The sold-out show at the Bren Events Center started with violinist/bass player Paz Lenchantin playing violin on a platform, illuminated by a single blue spotlight. The stage was dark, and it was all very surreal and theatrical, and one by one, the different band members appeared, at which point you realized they'd all been standing there in the dark the whole time, except for singer Maynard Keenan, who came running out shortly thereafter amid a big swell of audience hollering. By this time, Lenchantin had already descended the platform and switched from violin to bass and was rocking out with the band. I have no idea when she did this or how it was that I didn't see it happen, which makes me think it happened when the audience's attention was being directed to something else, which constantly happens in big, choreographed stage shows but never in little clubs.
It has been a long, long time since I've seen a band play at a big place, and while they tore deftly through most of the songs on their melodic and yet hard rock debut album—which I've listened to about a million times and I always mention when people ask me what I've been listening to lately—I commented to my friend Sharla that they looked really small from where we were sitting. I mean, they did.
Earlier that day, my fellow Locals Only writer Rich Kane told me that Maynard had the same hair as me, which I found strange since I thought Maynard was bald or had a Mohawk, which is what he had in his other band, Tool, but it seems he's either grown a lot of long black hair or he's wearing a wig. On this night, he was also wearing a knit ski cap and running pants. Perhaps up close there was some big Style Statement he was making, as A Perfect Circle is very sleek and dark and stylized (as is Tool, for that matter, except for the sleek part), but from our vantage point, he just looked like a cross between J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr and Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes.
About four or five songs into the set, they did some crazy dance remix of "3 Libras" that really wasn't that crazy or dance-ish but instead was pretty sluggish and involved Maynard singing the same lyrical fragments over and over and over. "Oh, just play the damn song! It's my favorite song!" pleaded Sharla. I doubt they heard her, but they did start playing the album version of the song, which not only made Sharla cheer but also made the three stoned air drummers to our right begin playing their imaginary drum kits in unison.
The wee drummers were trying to keep up with drum aficionado and Orange Countian Josh Freese, who plays in A Perfect Circle as well as about a million other bands and studio projects.
Then Sharla thought she was going to puke because of the couple in front of us, and I started wondering who it is that thinks, "Hey, let's go to A Perfect Circle and cuddle!" Then a horrible thing happened in which I had sudden Couple Vision and everywhere I turned, all I saw were gross, happy couples pressed against each other.
"Last night, this was our last song—tonight, it's not," said Maynard, before playing the radio single "Judith." It was at this point that I realized something horrible has happened to my attention span. I have none! Instead of thinking, "Oh, good, it's not their last," I found myself thinking, "Why not?" And it wasn't because the band was boring—because they weren't—or because we were sitting far away, or because we got a contact high from the kids next to us, or because there were people making out all around us. Okay, maybe it was that a little bit.