Chicago Open Air returns with headliners System of a Down and Tool | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Chicago Open Air returns with headliners System of a Down and Tool

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After taking a hiatus in 2018, Chicago Open Air is back for a third edition. The two-day festival celebrates the legacy of heavy metal, and each night’s headliner is one of the biggest bands in the genre—both of whom have kept fans eagerly waiting for new music for more than a decade. The first day of the fest wraps up with a set from Armenian-American circus-prog legends System of a Down. It’s been a full 14 years since the group released their most recent record, Hypnotize, but they’ve been active on and off in the interim. When they do come together onstage, their explosive combination of spazz metal and old-world mysticism can still make audiences go berserk. It’s been almost as long since Sunday-night headliners Tool released their most recent album, 2006’s 10,000 Days, but unlike SOAD, the LA dark-prog four-piece have been promising a new LP pretty much every single year since then. With an aesthetic that seems like a hybrid of King Crimson’s knotty Discipline and Pink Floyd’s grim Animals, Tool make brainy metal but have paradoxically become notorious for their fan base of mouth breathers (front man Maynard James Keenan has described them as “insufferable” and “retards”). A couple summers ago the band started adding a new instrumental track, “Descending,” to their set lists. Then last week, at the Welcome to Rockville Festival in Jacksonville, Florida, they finally performed their first full-on new song since 10,000 Days, and as fans clamored to watch the resulting videos in the days that followed, the band officially announced a new album, due out August 30. “Invincible” is classic Tool—creeping, complex, slithering, and growing minute by minute. And as always, the music is anchored by the eight-armed drumming of Danny Carey and draped with Keenan's pensive, soaring vocals.   v

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