Nine Inch Nails Noblesville, IN 5/30/09
Verizon Wireless Music Center
Purple Pass Day
The day started off as any other- except today we got a NIN show on a Saturday. What to do all day- don't want to wear myself out doing yard work prior to what was to come. Amy and I left home about 5:00PM and with Google telling us that it was a 56 minute drive to Verizon Wireless Music Center, I worried we wouldn't get there early enough. After arriving in 46 minutes (yeah I was reminded on the spot) we head up to the will call window. No tickets yet at this point, so we have some time to kill. We were meeting Neehar and Tim, and I took the opportunity to give them a call- they let me know they were on their way. Also called Gg. Gg had already been inside doing the meet and greet and we arrived at the last song of soundcheck (Burn) Since they were not able to leave the venue after getting in for the pre-show meet and greet, I told Gg we'd meet up when we got inside.
Finally, the tickets arrive and after an ID check, the lady cracks open this FAT envelope. Inside, 4 VIP laminates and four tickets. Section A, Row W inside the pavilion. I damn near had a heart attack. I scooped up my loot and clutched them like I got the last Cabbage Patch kid in the store in 1983. Wondering if I'm going to make it past all the people behind me or be beaten to death. We get inside and I call Leviathant- and was freaking out about it pretty bad. Afterwards he told me he had a good laugh at the voicemail!
As we have no idea what these VIP laminates do, we head to the stage and ask one of the guys in security. He lets us up onto the stage and apparently there is a meeting going on, so we get escorted back down to the seat level- it was short lived. I took the opportunity to look around as much as I could. It is a vantage point few ever get to see! Finally, we find someone who tells us where to go- across the venue and to a gate where another security guy is waiting, he opens the gate as if it were the front door of the Willy Wonka Chocolate factory! We head back and there is food cooking, people milling around, Crew members busting tail moving gear. We head down the ramp and literally walk right into the middle of the donor signing and are within feet of the Band signing autographs under the tent. At this point we are, admittedly, pretty lost. We have no idea what to do, where to go. Are we in the way? Are we allowed to just hang out here? Up walks Jerome (NIN Tour manager) and says to me "Hey, you're the NIN Historian right?" Too which both I and my other three guests are absolutely stunned that anyone knows who the hell I am. He introduces himself and says "Well I make the list every day" so at this point I'm pretty stoked. I even admitted to him that I'm freakin' lost- have no idea what to do. He says "Well Trent has 248 people to sign autographs for and take pictures with and about an hour to do it" I said "Well I don't want to interrupt anything, so maybe we should just come back after the show." He said "I'll let Trent know you are here" and as Trent, Ilan and Justin were walking back to the tent after a photo opp, I did see Trent glance in my general direction as Jerome is telling him. He comes back up to us and I told Jerome that "We'll go and find our seats, we'll watch the show and head back after." I said "Should we wait for Jane's set to get over or come back after NIN is offstage?" He says "No, come back after NIN, we'll be gone before Jane's set is over."
So we took off and got back to our seats as Street Sweeper Social Club was to go on in about 5 minutes. SSSC takes the stage and puts on a blistering set. I have to admit I was really jazzed to have the chance to witness Tom Morello play live. I have been a RATM fan for years and this was just an added bonus to be able to witness such a master on the guitar perform live! The reviews at the prior shows were spot on. With it being Tom's birthday at the end of the set- they had a few added guests arrive out on stage and we all sang Happy Birthday to him as he blew out his cake. Nice Touch!
After a very quick change over, NIN took the stage. I have to admit that seeing NIN start a show in the daylight was a bit strange. Every venue I have ever seen the band in was indoors, so the lights go down and the show is always in the dark. As this tour has proven, you never know what is going to open the show, or what set-list you may get that night. I hear "Home" start and it sounded phenomenal. We were ready to go!
4. March Of The Pigs
5. Piggy (Nothing Can Stop Me Now)
7. Meet Your Master
8. Head Down
9. I Do Not Want This
10. Gave Up
11. The Fragile
12. The Downward Spiral
15. Mr Self Destruct
17. The Good Soldier
18. The Hand That Feeds
19. Head Like A Hole
A lot of people complain about "Home" as an opener, I'm not sure why! The beginning of it is a perfect option to start a show, and the song is amazing, so why the hell not! Luckily people only needed 3 seconds to figure it out and start cheering. If people wanted a full throttle asskicking from start to finish, they only had to wait one song. "1,000,000" came out FIRING. This show was a beating from start to finish and the crowd ate it up. Sensing that Indiana actually DID have something worth drawing out this time, at the beginning of "Discipline" Trent says "Come On!" To anyone who has been listening to shows or attending shows over the years- that is your sign, sort of a "you're on the right track, I know you have it in you- now show me." signal. "March of the Pigs" was our chance! As I looked over the venue, I was really stunned, as I'm fucking JAMMING at this point, everyone in front of me was kind of lame, even the pit was fairly lifeless. They had people PACKED in that tiny pit like sardines, so I can imagine their was not a lot of room to live it up, but no real jamming going on in there. The crowd as a whole did pretty well to give back during MOTP vocally, but physically, not much going on in the venue! I'm in full body slam at this point and dripping with sweat from the activity and the humidity! "Piggy (Nothing Can Stop Me Now)" was a very nice part of the set. The only time I had heard this version was on a recording, so to see it and hear it live, was a treat, for sure! At this point, crowd is still fairly into the show. Next up "Metal" and the crowd goes DEAD, It was quiet enough that I could hear people around me going "What is this?" At this point I'm up on my seat, rock it out for about the first verse, and decide to be courteous to the people behind me and get down before someone put me down! "Meet your Master" is up next, still, crowd is just like "Uhhh huh?" Must have been a lot of folks who missed about the last 5 years of releases! "Head Down" is next and I am in friggin Bliss. It sounded so bad ass with that riff pounding out throughout the song- The guitars and drums were mixed a little higher than I have heard at shows in the past. So we got a full assault on this one! Badass from start to finish! "I Do Not Want This" is next and damn, another song that was a first live performance for me- one word: Unbelievable! Once again lots of people in the crowd scratching their heads on this one. During the show I was unsure if the "I'm falling down the same hill..." part of the song was tucked in there or not until I heard a recording. At the show, I couldn't hear it, even though I was singing it as if it were. It was not there, but still a blistering version of the song and one of the highlights of the night for sure!"Gave up" started and people finally started to wake up a bit (I mean how can you not?) When the "Wake up, wake up, wake up, Wake up in Flames" line hit- the place exploded- finally some friggin life in here.
NIN works into "The Fragile" with Trent saying "You guys are a great audience. Thank You" With the storm and the rain, "The Fragile" was perfect. Perfectly played, perfectly fitting for the moment. It was our tiny break and a beautiful one at that. As the song trailed out and "The Downward Spiral" started I had a feeling we were going to ramp back up. Kicking into "Wish" and following that with "Survivalism" was exhausting and it never let up. "Mr. Self Destruct" was a complete surprise and I absolutely LOVED it. When it started Neehar just looked at me. It started to build, and build and build and then exploded- I thought Neehar was going to wet himself. I'm fairly certain the phrase "Oh my god, Oh my GOD" came out of his mouth- by then I was back into my zone and allowed him to find his own! The intro of the song was frigging unbelievable, I think about 90% of the audience had no clue what it was until the "beating" was near its end and the lyrical part of the song started and BOOM, the place went insane! Follow that with "Physical" and I have no idea how anyone could have ever bitched for a second about this show.
We get our Trent interlude and Trent says "Thank you, thanks for sticking with us tonight" This has been a good show for us and we thank you for that, thank you for every thing, thank you for uh the last 22 fuckin' years man, thank you! I could say this is our last tour but it'll make you sad, so I won't say it, but I will say, thanks for your support all these years and I want to introduce my excellent band to you...."
Onto a blistering rendition of "The Good Soldier" and right into "The Hand that Feeds" one of my favorite live songs. We finish (or so we think) with "Head Like a Hole" and by this point- I have been beaten- and it feels so damn good! Like a runner who just ran 10 miles alone- just because he thought he could do it- he is in pain, yet he has a feeling of accomplishment. At this point we actually start to leave our seats to head backstage and don't get too far before Trent and company come back out to a mini encore of "Hurt" They step back out on stage and Trent says "Thank you!" "Every once in a while, you have a night where everything feels like its in the right place and in the right place and time and place and this is fuckin it! So thank you so much" Then proceeds to blow us away with "Hurt" Friggin unreal! The crowd was totally into it, venue was mellowing (or trying to catch its breath!) the sight was amazing!
The show was absolutely packed with songs that wore me out. I lost my voice once again, giving 100% back to what was being poured out on stage. The weather was strangely perfect for the show, during "Metal" the Tornado sirens started wailing, to all of us in the Pavilion we were unaware. At one point Amy gets my attention and says "Do you realize it is frigging pouring out?" To which I look behind me and see the lawn crowd rushing towards the pavilion hoping to catch the slightest edge of dry.
If you look at the setlist, we really only got one place to actually breathe and that was "The Fragile" the rest- you should have never stopped moving until "Hurt" carried you to the end of the nights journey! I think one of the highlights of the night was the fact that Neehar did not check any set-lists of previous shows- he would have no idea what was on tap and when songs like "Piggy (Version) "Meet your Master," "Head Down" "I Do Not Want This" "The Downward Spiral" and "Mr. Self Destruct" started, it took him a second and when he finally figured it out- he would FREAK. It was stellar!
At the end of the set, we finally head backstage- fighting the tide of people heading out as we were trying to head in, once again we got on the wrong side of the venue and when "Hurt" was done there was a mass exodus out the door. We manage to get to the backstage gate again and head inside. As we get in there are probably 20 people or so standing down by the catering door, with satin passes and items to be signed. People were just chilling out. The backstage bustle was pretty intense, roadies are flying around, moving trusses, lights, road cases. Its organized chaos. To anyone who doesn't do this day in and day out- you would think it was some kind of mess- but these guys were so efficient, what went where, what came first, last etc. It was very cool to see from this perspective. We do our best to stay out of the way, and with no one escorting anyone, it was basically a "go where you like- as long as you stay out of the way" situation. Any door you were not allowed to go in, had a Verizon staffer there letting you know where you could and couldn't go. We make our way back to literal backstage. Jane's Addition is on stage and we are down by the NIN production office. This was the back entrance to the dressing rooms and where the bands would head straight out onto stage. A few folks who arrived there prior to us were waiting to be escorted to watch Jane's from the side of the stage. For the most part all of us are just hanging out- soaking up the atmosphere. To see the inter-workings of backstage and to hear a band on stage is pretty awesome. After a bit all the other folks were escorted to the stage and it was just the four of us hanging out. We were offered to go, but passed since we were still trying to figure out where the heck we were supposed to be. We were not allowed in the dressing rooms (obviously) and we happen to catch Jerome (tour manager) coming out of the dressing rooms. We said we weren't sure if we were in the right place or not. At Denver we were herded into the Catering room after the show and just sat down and waited for any of the band to come down if they were going to do any meet and greets. This time wasn't the same. Jerome said he wasn't sure what was going on with the four of us either, but that "They will probably walk right past you on the way to the bus." We attempted to get into the catering room but the woman at the door denied us. On the pass sheet it said "No catering" which means that people with certain passes aren't allowed to EAT food, but she took it as "No admittance to the catering room!" so we were really bummed. After a bit I went down to look into the catering room and there were 11 people in there with the band chatting it up. At this point there are now 50-60 people outside the catering room, all just waiting. No one allowed in except the people inside already. While we were backstage waiting we did get to run into a few other folks. I saw Boots Riley and shook his hand, told him that it was a great set and we really enjoyed seeing SSSC, he was really nice, thanked us for that. A bit later we saw Rob Sheridan and he took quite a bit of time to talk to Neehar and sign a ticket for a friend of his. A really down to earth guy.
After about an hour or so the post-show meet and greet with the band is over and Trent, Mariqueen, and someone on staff are heading out towards the busses. I'm about 50 yards away from the group of 50-60 down at the other end of the dock and at this point it is just Amy and I. Neehar and Tim had already headed back out to catch the rest of the Jane's set. As he walked by I said "Hey Trent" he turned around and I sheepishly asked if I could snap just one picture with him. He sort of motioned me over, I shook his hand and he asked me if I had a camera (as I'm digging in my pocket for it.) I hand off the camera to Amy, and tell him who I am as she's trying to get the camera fired up. Snap the picture, tell him thank you and he was on his way. I am most appreciative that he stopped. After signing 248 autographs pre-show and taking pictures with every one of the donors, then putting on a hell of a set, and then doing more meet and greet activities after the show. I can only imagine that he just wanted to get on that bus and make his way towards Clarkston, MI. It had been a long day no doubt. So I can say I was most appreciative of garnishing his last 30 seconds here in Indiana!
All in all, one hell of a day! Beautiful show, great friends, and finally getting to hit another show with my wife (the last two she was absent from.) The backstage experience was really cool, I think with all the donors, there were a lot more people backstage than normal. Band Staff and Verizon staff had their hands full for sure. When we were asked if we wanted to go up and watch Jane's Addiction from the side of the stage, I'm fairly certain we didn't have rights to do that, but their was a lot of that going on- no one was really sure because you had different level donors, you had satin pass holders, you had laminate pass holders, were we there as guests of Jane's Addiction? Were we guests of Nine Inch Nails? No one really knew. But a phenomenal day to say the least. I'm wondering if this may be my last show review. I'm hoping it isn't but only time will tell. If so.. to have the experience to witness just one stop on the "Wave Goodbye" Tour.. will be one that I will never forget!
Pit: Not Down In It