Tool time

With Pearl Jam and Tool both releasing records on the same day, Chuck Teed heads to a Monday midnight sale to see if, in the digital age, the fans will still represent.

Spring Garden is usually a pretty desolate place on Mondays at midnight. All the shops are closed, few restaurants and bars remain open and most people would prefer to sleep off the first day of work than carouse on a street corner in the dark—especially if it's pissing rain.

This wasn't the case on May 1. Dozens of people braved the elements to hit a rare midnight sale at HMV. The record retail giant was releasing Tool's album 10,000 Days, as well as Pearl Jam's self-titled disc, and fans—or fanatics, if you will—lined up to be among the first people to own a copy of each band's album.

"We don't do this very often," says assistant manager Jeremy Burtch, a six-year HMV veteran. "It's pretty much gotta be huge. Pearl Jam has a huge fan base, and Tool fans are rabid. We're hoping for a good night. They could put out horrible albums and people would still buy it."

Dave Doran agrees. "Even if I didn't like it, it's the new Tool," he says. The 19-year-old Tantallon resident drove in town to hang out with his brother Dan (Dave was broke, so Dan was buying), and couldn't wait to wrap his ears around the new songs. "They're my favourite band. If I can go see Star Wars at midnight, then I can go get the Tool disc at midnight."

Less than 10 people lingered around the front of the store at 11:45pm, but as the witching hour approached, so did handfuls of people—mostly college-aged males, usually in groups of four and five. By the time the prized shipment was ready for purchase, over 50 people were lined up in anticipation. The scene wasn't exactly pandemonium, but there was definitely a sense of excitement in the air.

"We didn't know if there was going to be a lot of people here, but it's midnight and there's a lineup," says Chrissy Crowley. The 21-year-old was waiting with friends, who left a late-night soiree to pick up the discs. "I've already heard the new Tool album online, but it's always better to have the real album in your hands. We had to come and get them."

The mini-mob quickly pounced on the CDs once they were unveiled. People were reaching over staff as they tried to stock the discs, pulling them off the shelf as fast as they could be displayed. Hands were anxiously tapping on the counter as discs were being paid for, and, once approved, quickly unwrapped like a child's Christmas gift. Tools fans—who were definitely in the majority this morning—were especially pleased with the insanity-inducing artwork and stereoscopic glasses, and many spent several minutes inspecting their purchase. Some people left the cashiers with their hands in the air in a symbol of victory, while others quickly retreated to the closest stereo to hear the brand new music.

"I live pretty close, like two feet down the road," says Dan Doran, 23. "I'm gonna burn a big joint and listen to that shit."

A few purists didn't even want to hear the CD until they were safely in their homes. "We had one guy waiting in line for the Tool album, and he was like, 'Are you gonna play anything off the album? Cause if you are, can you just skip it?'" recalls Burtch. "Every time a new song came on, he would plug his ears in case it was a Tool."

Some would argue those who came out at midnight only did so to mark their uber-fan territory—I've seen it all, I was here first, yada yada yada. That might well be the case. But in a world where record sales are declining each year, and more and more people are resorting to downloading music, they might be part of a dying breed: people who see music as more than just a disposable source of entertainment, but as a complete, physical art form that is to be valued and cherished. And if these people feel the need to head out in the pissing rain late on a Monday night to feed their musical fix, more power to them.

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