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April 7, 2005
The Big Show

After a grueling five-stop tour of the United States and that one other country, Trent Razor and his merry band of gothic minstrels are taking a well deserved month-long break, which will presumably be spent throwing an epic LAN party at Jerome's apartment. Assuming they don't get too carried away eating Cool Ranch Doritos and playing Final Dragon Quest MCMXVII or whatever game is popular in the nerd community right now, they'll be back at the end of this month to resume rocking you proper. In the meantime, I thought I might take advantage of this lull in activity to educate those unfamiliar with the rules of Nine Inch Nails concert etiquette. I know I've written about similar topics in the past, but: A) things have changed somewhat since the last tour, B) I have no more original ideas left, and C) eat shit.

When you go to a NiN show (writing "NiN" is so awesome, by the way), there are certain things you should and shouldn't do. For many people, these rules are simply common sense, but for many others, common sense is not something to be taken for granted. Like that guy I saw wearing a suit at the Reno Hilton show. Who the hell does that? What an asshole.

Some ill-informed individuals might try to tell you that the "goth" look wore out its welcome ten years ago, and that it's entirely too clich? to still be dressing in this manner for a NiN show in this day and age. They might suggest that you're only reinforcing the tired stereotype of the mopey teenage NiN fan circa 1994 by wearing fishnets, combat boots and black makeup to a concert by an artist who has long since moved on from that style (which was largely exaggerated by the media in the first place). Don't listen to these people!! They don't know what they're talking about. They're just jealous because they don't have any class. They actually seem to think a simple T-shirt and jeans is an acceptable choice of attire to wear to a performance by The Almighty Trent. Those of us in our right minds know we'd rather slit our wrists than show up at a NiN concert without our vinyl pants! That is, assuming we don't already have enough excuses to slit our wrists, being goth and all. I mean, people still dress that way for Marilyn Manson concerts, so why shouldn't it be the same for Nine Inch Nails? Once again, it's only common sense.

Once you get inside the venue, you will most likely find yourself standing around waiting for the show to start, assuming it hasn't started already. This is a perfect opportunity for you to snort with disdain at those who are not dressed as freaky as you -- which, if you're a true fan, should be everyone. Make sure to take a moment to stand near the merchandise stand and complain loudly that the new shirts suck.

You may notice a gentleman walking around before the show with a camera, possibly carrying a clipboard as well. This is Roy Sheraton, the official NiN photographer. After you've snorted at him with disdain, approach him and demand to be videotaped. If he obliges, immediately begin rambling about one or more of the following subjects:

you have eighteen copies of every halo for no discernable reason, and a tattoo of Trent from the "Closer" video on your crotch

NiN and Skinny Puppy are the only bands that matter, and NEED to tour together and like, totally save music from Shitney Spears and, uh... The Shitstreet Boys

you can sing [name of song] even better than Trent can, no seriously, check it out

you will do anything to go backstage, even if it absolutely must involve Leo Herrera (in all honesty, it probably will)

Keep in mind that your video will immediately be rushed backstage to be shown to Trent, and he will remember you and your poignant words forever. So make it good! Show some skin, if necessary.

At some point, Trent's crappy lounge music will cut out, and the lights will go down. This obviously means it's time for the band to come out! Of course, it will only be the opening band, but you should act as if NiN is about to come out anyway. Yell things like "YEAH! NINE INCH FUCKIN' NAILS!!" Once it's totally evident that the band on stage is not Nine Inch Fuckin' Nails (which should hopefully be no more than three songs into the set), the appropriate response is to first express feelings of bewilderment for roughly 90 seconds, then anger for about two minutes, and then mild impatience/annoyance throughout the remainder. Make sure to throw in at least one audible boo between songs. Whatever you do, do not clap at any time, under any circumstances, even if you actually like a few of their songs. Remember, Trent is counting on you to make the supporting act feel as unwanted as possible!

After the opening act, you'll see a bunch of old guys wandering around on stage, messing with the instruments and mics and stuff. But before Nine Inch Nails comes out, the roadies have to go out there and set things up for them. Now I'm going to let you in on a top secret little fun fact, because that's what the Lord would want me to do. I bet you didn't know this, but Trent personally gives each one of the roadies a fistful of aftershow passes, and tells them to hand them out to fans who are really cool. Seriously, it's true! Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that you impress the roadies by doing one or more of the following:

demonstrating your remarkable aim with a half-full cup of warm Bud Light

if you are female, exposing your breasts (don't worry, you don't need to be "attractive" or "over 18" -- roadies have very low standards)

shouting "where's Trent?" repeatedly

shouting "take me backstage!" repeatedly

smoking marijuana

urinating

...and more!

For some reason, I guess just because he's completely self-absorbed, Trent likes to have his own music fade in and start playing over top of whatever hippie shit is already blaring on the speakers. This usually indicates that the band is going to be coming out in about 5-10 minutes. Some might say that this would give you ample opportunity to find a good spot before the lights go down, but that's just stupid. The correct thing to do is stand around near the back, smoking cloves and talking about how you'd never buy one of those stupid posters they're selling at the merch stand, and not only because you're broke. Then when NiN starts playing, make a mad dash for the front. Sure, there will be people in your way, but that's nothing a few elbows to the face can't fix. The "hey my friend is up there waiting for me" trick also has been known to work wonders, if you're a pussy who doesn't like elbowing people in the face. All that matters, though, is that you get all the way up to the front so Trent can slobber all over you during "Piggy". Maybe you'll be extra lucky and receive a drop kick from Aaron and an STD from Jeordie as well. Who wouldn't want that?

At this point I was thinking about detailing the appropriate behavior for fans to exhibit during different songs in the setlist. But then I remembered that there's really only one way to act during every song: Go CrAaAaAaZy!!! Whether they're playing their shitty new stuff or their overplayed old stuff, the only thing you should be doing is moshing like crazy! And I don't mean the so-called "reasonable" moshing, I mean the good old-fashioned flailing limbs, teeth kicking, hair pulling, genital scarring variety. Do as much crowd-surfing as possible, ignoring any naysayers who may accuse you of thinking you're at a Pearl Jam concert in 1992. And whatever you do, don't stop on account of the slow songs! Just because the band is slowing it down for a moment, that doesn't mean you should too. Continue punching and kicking like an enraged crack addict during "Hurt", the quiet part of "With Teeth" and any other snoozers they decide to throw in there. If Trent looks out into the crowd and sees you wimping out, he totally won't high-five you when he sees you backstage.

Apparently the band really hates water, but keeps forgetting. They always have a shit ton of bottled water there on stage, but every time one of them grabs a bottle and takes a drink, they immediately hurl the bottle at the audience in disgust. Obviously, these water bottles make great collector's items, and whenever one lands within 100 feet of you, every possible effort should be made to acquire it. Most states have a loophole in their laws which allows for the taking of another person's life if it is necessary in order to obtain a water bottle that has been touched by a member of Nine Inch Nails. Don't be afraid to take full advantage of this. For those of you who are lucky enough to score one or more bottles, here are their estimated values on eBay:

bottle thrown by Trent Reznor: $250
if he drank from it first: $450

bottle thrown by Jerome Dillon: $150

bottle thrown by Aaron North: $150

bottle thrown by Alessandro Cortini: yeah right, he can't throw that far

bottle thrown by Jeordie White: REDEMPTION VALUE - CA CASH REFUND ME, VT, CT, DE, NY, MA, IA, OR 5 MI 10
if he drank from it first: please consult a physician


Eventually, the show will come to an end (some of you "concert virgins" might not have known this). But worry not, the fun isn't over yet. Even if you didn't impress the roadies enough to gain a backstage pass, there are still tons of awesome things to do, including and limited to:

harrassing the roadies again

getting shooed out by security

lingering until forcefully removed by security

hanging out by the tour bus, touching it

going to Denny's and getting Moons Over My Hammy, again


On the other hand, if you followed my advice correctly and did manage to finagle your way backstage, please read the rules of backstage etiquette which I have lovingly outlined here. It's come to my attention that some of you have not been following them (one rule in particular), so please take a moment to refresh your memory.

I hope you'll find these guidelines useful, and that you will have a great time at the upcoming NiN shows, even if it's at the expense of others. NINE INCH FUCKIN' NAILS, MAN!!!!

Also, I promise to never type "NiN" ever again.

Yours truly,
Meathead


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