By Blake Hegerle
One thing that I remember about the show is the tension between the performances. Before A Perfect Circle, there wasn't too much in the air. Once they were out of the way, people began to work themselves up. A Perfect Circle put on a decent show, and they had a great backdrop. It was white tapestries, with strange, flowing script in fluorescent sensitive white letters. Immediatly upon seeing this I thought: elvish. Like Tolkein or something. A Perfect Circle played some decent music, and Maynard was a good singer, but they didn't have stage presence. Something he did have was a fruity hairdo (I'm not sure, but I think I saw him take off a wig back stage) Maynard was no doubt fucked up on something, and I enjoyed them less that I had hoped. One thing that I really remember, because I payed the most attention to her, was the bassist. I'm a man, so I'm going to be a male pig for a moment. APC's bassist was hot. At first she came out wearing a silly little Viking helmet you might buy at K-Mart, but latter, it fell off. When her hair had been down for a while, she, during a span of no longer than six seconds, put her hair up. It was the most painful thing she could have done to a guy like me, I have a thing with ladies putting their hair up, and there she was, all inaccessable and everything. And to all the ladies out there, APC has a guitarist who I would describe as stylish. I'm not gay, but if If I were gay, I would probably go with a guy with as much style as him. Or as cocky: he was wearing a suit. He looked almost like a Bowie rip-off, but he was able to pull it off, so I don't begrudge him that. Anyway, they played a lot of slower stuff. They really rocked on the faster stuff, but they only played three or four up tempo songs. Maynard did a good job singing, but someone I drove with put it best: "He sung alright, but he acted like Ozzy." Which he did, which was bad. That aside, Maynard is still amazing, and here's why-In the middle of their set, he addressed the crowd. He stuck to the whole "Current music sucks" theme from previous shows. However, rather than merely bitching, which would have been okay, since I do agree with him, he said the greatest thing I've ever heard a performer on stage say. I think he put a little thought into this little soliloquy, and it shows. I'll try to repeat it as accurately as possible, for it bears being repeated verbatim. He said:
(Shameless plug for band's first record went here.) "Today is my birthday... And I want you all to of you to do something for me tomorrow... I want you all to go out to the record stores, and buy your three favorite albums. Buy real artists, like: Portishead, Nine Inch Nails, Bjork, Tricky and David Bowie, because you know what? The bad music is winning. It's time we recast our votes."
I may have got the bands he listed out of order, because when he said Portishead, I started yelling my support of this awesome man at the top of my lungs. He did this in the middle of the set, and I am still shocked that he listed half of my favorite bands. I did in fact buy some albums from my favorite artists the next day, which would be today. Anyway, I was still in good shape after they finished, and only a few hard-core moshers were ripping it up for APC, everyone else was pretty much just standing around.
About forty minutes later, I heard the sound I had been straining to hear, the first strings from The New Flesh. Unlike other shows I've read about these past few days, they didn't wait to start on Somewhat Damaged. The force of the crowd was incredible, I was moved about sixteen feet forward. Not so much moved as dragged/pushed. I had it pretty good; from what I hear, a large group of about a hundred people collectively lost their balance and fell down into a huge pile of people. There were already a couple of surfers, and I almost got into a fist fight when this dipshit kept leaping into me, prompting me to push him, hard. He had a hatred in his eyes, but we never got a chance to piss each other off any more, I pushed him too hard, and he couldn't get back through the crowd. We each drifted violently through the crowd. Violent and excited though some of the crowd was, I was surprised at how non-violent it was, and how small the pits were. There just wasn't room. There were some groups of jocks who made little pits for themselves, which the crowd let them have, given they were far enough back. Most people were just getting into the music, the assholes were the exception more than the rule. I find it ironic that this was one of the least violent concerts I've attended, even though it's the biggest. I had made it a goal before the concert to lose my voice. During Somewhat Damaged, I did my best to accomplish that, singing along at the top of my lungs, especially during the courus, along with every other person in the building, except the eunuchs, I'm sorry, I mean emotionless guards.
The second song, Terrible Lie, was a turning point. Before, the crowd was as packed as it was during A Perfect Circle, but when the curtains rolled back, the crowd compressed even more. It was the start of some insanity. It was painful, it was hot, it was sweaty, it was cramped, it was wonderfully great fun. People went nuts, yelling "Trent!", and there I was, yelling "Trent!" too. Everyone was actually pretty decent. Whenever anyone fell down, someone (a couple of times myself) would forcibly restore them to their feet. No one I saw got hurt, but everyone got violated. I don't care if other people violated my privacy (which happened continuously), because I was violating theirs in turn. Terrible Lie was my first time seeing the Nails in person, and I must say, they were performers. It just drove home A Perfect Circle's lack of presence paled even more when I saw Trent, looking all fucking crazy intense. Maynard didn't seem to be all there, but Trent seemed to have nothing else but the song he was singing/playing.
The order of events was pretty unclear to me then, must be the lack of O2. I do remember a lot of it though. When Sin's introduction, the long into, started, I was starting to disconnect from everything. This was probably from the perfectness of the show; Sin is a personal favorite. They pretty much stuck to previous set lists, but they did play all of Pinion in the middle of the show. During the slow songs, I took a chance to go buy some water, and actually listen(!) to the songs, this gave me time to absorb some subtler aspects of the show. The acoustics were phenomenal. Everything was balanced, and most of it was even in tune. The lighting was excellent. In other words, there was some subtlety here, not just all out guitaring/drumming/screaming. This is still what separates NIN from 99% of the music world for me: subtlety.
All such intelectual thoughts were gone when I heard the opening keyboards to Suck. I was recuperated from the little break I allowed myself, and I fought my way up to the front by the end of the song. Then came Closer. Overexposed though it may be, I love that fucking song. The next time a surfer passed overhead, I said to my self, "Self, you have to get up there." So I found this complete stranger, and he lifted me up. (Thanks you wonderful human being) It was a real community effort, but I got up. In much less time than it takes me to write this, it was over, and I was two feet from the stage. The guards were like assembly line workers, they didn't let me loiter for more than a second.
Before Starfuckers, Inc., Trent once again dedicated this next song to, "A friend of mine." I could almost feel the Manson fans being offended. They ended on Hurt, and I was spent. At the exit from the arena (did I mention that it was packed?) I heard some kids bemoaning the fact that they didn't play Get Down Make Love. I told them to quit bitching, because it was a fucking great show. They didn't bitch after that, they just mumbled amongst themselves.
Trent remembered all of the lines (I don't think I could do that-even just singing along, I got mixed up a couple of times) and even improvised effectively. During March of the Pigs, he said "...everything is NOT alright..." which got a predictably overwhelming response. All of the band members where on top of things the whole way through, even through their solos. And Trent had a georgous Fragile guitar... enough said. This is the first large venue I've attended, and my brother puts it best. He said: "After that show, I get chills whenever I hear a song that they performed that night."