The Nine Inch Nails / Explosions In The Sky Show

November 23, 2013

I bought this ticket months ago.  Or, what seems like months ago, anyway.  Probably back in June, as that’s when I would’ve read this AV Club post.  Nine Inch Nails, after supposedly giving it all up back in 2009, is back at it, with a brand new album & a brand new tour.  I had to go, because the last time I saw them – at Sasquatch, where they paired with Jane’s Addiction – I was pretty much blackout drunk.  I remember having a great time … and that’s pretty much all I remember.  Not that my memory is something to write home about, but still.  I had to go to this show.

NIN was touring with Explosions in the Sky and Godspeed You! Black Emperor.  I absolutely adore both of those bands, but if I had to pick one I preferred over the other, it would be GY!BE.  Nevertheless, you never turn down a chance to see either of these bands if they come to your town, as they never disappoint.

I’d forgotten about the show until a couple weeks ago.  For some reason, I failed to put it on my calendar at work, which I look to often, like a prisoner looks at a picture of an island paradise.  My calendar has all of my upcoming events – comedy shows, parties with friends, weekend trips out of state, whathaveyou.  It keeps me going.  When you have nothing else going on, looking forward to the better times gives you hope.  Indeed, though, I might have forgotten about this show had I not randomly seen an ad for this tour on the Internet.  Might have even been on Facebook (again, my memory isn’t anything special).  I double-checked and, sure enough!  I’d bought my ticket on the website.  I pulled out the old e-mail and printed off the instructions.

After work yesterday, I decided to take in a movie.  Per the instructions, since I bought my ticket on the fanclub website, I was entitled to pick up my ticket early.  We were also granted early access and had a chance to purchase exclusive fanclub-only concert posters.  I would have needed to be there at 5pm or thereabouts, with the doors not opening until 6:45 (doors opening at 7pm for everyone else).  Since I’m kinda broke (it’s a long story, except not really:  my car needed a new transmission, which set me back $1,900), and since I didn’t want to stand around outside KeyArena for hours, I settled on the movie.  I get out of work at 3:30.  That left me plenty of time to go to the Regal theater and see Gravity.

Gravity is like a dream, in that it’s my worst nightmare.  Ye gods!  You know that feeling in dreams when you’re struggling to do something so seemingly simple, yet at the same time out-of-this-world difficult?  Like, walking down the street, but first you have to get past a gang of bandits shooting at you from the storefront windows?  That’s what that movie is like.  It was beautiful and frustrating and thrilling and moving and funny all at once.  And the 3D was more-or-less worth the extra cost.

The weather is crisp right now.  Highs of 50, lows at-or-around freezing.  You’re following a trail of your own breath wherever you walk.  Leaving the theater, it’s not enough to simply bundle yourself in your jacket.  You need to walk fast, through the downtown streets.  They’re not quite decorated to the holiday season, but we’re getting close.  Dusk in Downtown Seattle during the holidays is only rivalled – from my experience anyway – by Dusk in Manhattan during the holidays.  It’s a sight.

I humped it down fifth avenue, keeping the Space Needle in my sights.  I reached the KeyArena entrance around 6:30, with plenty of time to get my wrist band, my ticket, and my other wrist band.  These people try their best, but come on.  A wrist band to show that you bought your ticket through the fan club.  That gets you in the door to pick up your ticket.  They punch a hole in that, then lead you to the other wrist band that gets you on the floor.

I don’t know why I decided to get a ticket for the floor.  I don’t usually enjoy standing in one spot, surrounded by assholes for 3 and a half hours.  And, on top of it all, I’d be doing it stone sober.  Where’s the fun in that?  I guess I figured, if this is indeed the last time I ever see Nine Inch Nails live, I’d like to be as close as possible to enjoy the show.

People with smart phones are the worst types of people.  Just, in general.  In life.  You can’t possibly be in the moment with someone, you’ve got to be staring at that phone.  As if your online life won’t be there when you get home.  Of course, at concerts, people with smart phones are so abhorrent, I literally wish they would all drop dead.

How many times have you EVER gotten a quality picture from your smart phone while standing 100 feet away from the stage?  Isn’t it always just a blur of lights and smoke, with a few out-of-focus bodies on stage?  That’s your representation of the concert you’ve attended?  What are you going to do with that photo?  Post it on Facebook?  Tell everyone where you’ve been?  Prove it to them with a picture of some bullshit?  STOP IT!  And stop taking video with that fucking thing, it’s pointless!  You’re never going to go back and watch it again; the sound and video quality is crap; you’ve got a million fucktards around you singing along; and you’re making exactly zero people jealous by posting that video on Facebook because – GUESS WHAT – if they wanted to see Nine Inch Nails live, they would have bought the fucking ticket and gone!

I’ve only listened to the new album once.  From what I can recall, they played quite a bit from the new album at the show last night.  It strikes me as an album that plays better live than it does on album, but I’m loathe to make that distinction final without giving the album a few more listens.

The light show WAS amazing.  They had a screen come down in front of the band that lit up and also worked as sort of a background for lights to be projected upon it.  It really was quite spectacular.

Of the songs I did recognize, there was Terrible Lie, Head Like A Hole (pre-encore break closer), Sanctify, Wish, March of the Pigs, Piggy, A Warm Place, Hurt (post-encore break closer), Somewhat Damaged, The Hand That Feeds, Survivalism, and probably a couple others I can’t remember at the moment.

I also recognized all of the Explosions in the Sky songs, but for the life of me I don’t know what any of them are called.  I just know that I’ve heard them a million times and they’re all mind-blowing live.

Explosions started around 8pm and played for about an hour.  Nine Inch Nails probably started around 9:30 and went to about 11:30.

I stood behind this couple and their female friend.  I didn’t talk to them, but unlike most of the people there, they didn’t annoy the shit out of me.  It’s hard for me to enjoy the concert experience, because I don’t like being around people.  You’ve always got tall people standing in front of you, dick-holes behind you trying to shove their way forward, lard-asses planting themselves in your personal space even though you were there first and you’re just trying to shift your weight from foot to foot because it sucks like ass to stand in the same spot for three and a half hours.  They hold conversations during the quiet parts of songs, as if those parts aren’t as important as the hits, or the choruses.  Have a little respect!  Too many people show up to these things just waiting around for the songs they recognize; how about appreciating the songs you don’t and the experience of just seeing a band live?  How about shutting the fuck up for a few hours; what, you can’t bring yourself to not talk to someone for more than ten minutes at a time?  These traits are a lot easier to handle when you’re intoxicated.  Hence the reason why I sneak so much booze into shows.

They’re also a lot easier to take when you’re not trying to be close to the band.  There’s a give and take.  If you want a better viewing experience by being closer to the band, then you have to understand you’re going to be crammed in there.  You can’t move, and you’re forced to deal with the cretins.  Leaving is not an option, because you have to wade through a thousand packed-in sardines.  But, if you want a better crowd experience, then you’ve got to stand way away from the band.  On the outskirts.  Either in the back of the crowd, or way on the sides.  Last night, I decided I wanted to be relatively close, so I was crammed in there.  I didn’t complain at the time, but you’re damn right I’m going to complain now.  Concerts can be the best and the worst at the same time.  But, ultimately, if the band is good enough, it’s a net-positive.

Last night, both bands were worth the price of being surrounded by ass-clowns.  If I had it to do over again, I don’t think I’d change a thing (except, maybe I would’ve avoided having the Taco Del Mar burrito for lunch; I was passing gas all night!).

If I had just one wish to make the whole thing better, though, it’d be to have someone with which to share the experience.  I’ve never wanted to have a girlfriend more than when I’m alone at a concert.  Seeing these couples holding one another, making out in a sea of thousands.  I feel like a total creeper when I watch these people going at it, but the truth is – at those moments – I want nothing else than to have what they have.  One of these days, I guess.

If I had control over the playlist, in addition to the songs we heard, I would have added the following:  Happiness In Slavery, Heresy, Mr. Self Destruct, The Day The World Went Away, The Downward Spiral, The Perfect Drug, Burn, Something I Can Never Have, Metal, We’re In This Together, and I’d have the whole thing close with Beside You In Time and Right Where It Belongs.  As it stands, I’m not going to complain about what I DID hear.  You can’t have everything, but these are some of my favorites that weren’t included.

The walk home was cold and tough.  An uphill climb, down Denny Way, with my legs stiff and my feet sore.  I hit a mini-mart on the way home for a Gatorade, as I needed fluids in the worst way.  One thing about being up close and crowded:  you sweat a lot.  My Friday-casual work clothes have seen better days.

I ended up going to sleep around 2am, about 20 hours after I’d gotten up that day.  As a treat, I let myself sleep for a good 10 hours.  I’m supposed to go running today, but I think I’ll save it for tomorrow.  After all, the Seahawks are on a BYE and the rest of the NFL games look pretty shitty.


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