Nine Inch Nails Chicago, IL 10/7/05
Brown Pass Day
For the third time in 2005 I was able to see Nine Inch Nails, this time in a large venue again. As always, here is my account of the experience for 10/7/05.
This trip around we took a different approach. Today we were to get up, drive to Chicago and have little time between our arrival and going to the show. We arrive about 4:30 and check into the hotel, take a cab the mere 3/4 of a mile to the venue and scout out some places to eat before the doors open at 6:00.
We had seats this time (great ones at that- Thank you siNNer) since Amy is now 7 months along. We arrive at Allstate Arena about 30 minutes early and realize just how cold a Chicago October is. Unbeknownst to us we end up in the "Spiral Entrance" line and head over to another entrance because of our lack of membership.
Once inside we settle into our front row seats in section 110. We have a perfect view of the stage and are nearly eye level to it. For the two opening acts we have virtually no one around us and I am contemplating how much room I am going to have to go nuts once NIN comes out. I like to watch people and the interactions going on. On the floor I pick out people I hope will survive. The two most notable: The kid standing on the security barrier in the pit with his unrolled/un-tubed lithograph with a look on his face as if he is going to go to sleep or vomit at any moment (I'm not sure which), and the girl in stiletto heals walking around the pit as if she was out for a day at the mall.
Regarding the opening acts I came to a conclusion that Nine Inch Nails must be one of THE hardest bands in the world to open for. Even with a nationally known act like Queens of the Stone Age the reaction from the crowd was nil.
Autolux gave a pretty good performance, I think they still have a bit of anxiety for being out in front of a crowd this large, opening for a band this big, but it didn't seem to phase them. They went out played their set and were given a polite applause upon their departure.
Queens of the Stone Age:
Queens of the Stone Age really didn't get the response that frontman Josh Homme wanted. His constant whining to the audience about "no one likes us" or "they think we suck" coupled with the oh so captivating "dancing partner" and "dick sucking" comments overshadowed any playing they did. At one point I heard someone behind me in the crowd yell "Shut up and Play!" They did have a few fans in the audience that I could see were giving 100% back to them, but as a whole- in Chicago- Insulting the crowd to get something back didn't seem to work well at all.
Nine Inch Nails:
2. Love Is Not Enough
4. Terrible Lie
5. The Line Begins to Blur
6. March of the Pigs
7. The Frail
8. The Wretched
9. Closer/The Only Time Breakdown
11. Gave Up
13.Right Where It Belongs
14. Beside You In Time
20. The Hand That Feeds
21. Head Like A Hole
The show starts with "Pinion" with the lights up, once again I'm nearly the only one in my section standing (I'm really not so sure why this is so difficult, the pre-music goes away and "Pinion" is starting- now is a good time to get up off your ass!) Considering that it "hits" just as the lights go out. Into "Love Is Not Enough" and I'm jamming. At this point all those vacant seats around me have been filled and I have about a 2-1/2 foot space to work in. Thank God for the rail in front of me to hold onto since I was really unable to jump around! "Wish" starts and the Pit goes mad. From my vantage point I get a birds-eye view of the stage and the pit. People are already being pulled out left and right; it seems hot and cramped down inside.
"Terrible Lie" brings the crowd even higher, and it seems to have even more people singing that I can recall at any of the (4) NIN shows I have been to. The older material was perfectly balanced in the set tonight, as the vast majority of the people around me were not very "With Teeth" educated. This shown clear when "The Line Begins to Blur" was played and the section got a bit "quiet" and then burst back into full attack mode when "March of the Pigs" started! To me this was the end of "Act 1" so to speak. The crowd is exhausted already and the tide turns slowing it down to "The Frail." When it came on I knew what was up next was fully anticipating "The Wretched." Onward to "Closer" and I have to give Chicago crowds a lot of credit. Usually, when "Closer" gets played the noise level in the particular venue from the crowd jumps from 10 to 20, in Chicago the noise level went from 10 to 12. Not so many "Closer fans" in the crowd tonight. People around me who had not seen the club tour nor heard any of the recordings from it were gleefully surprised at "The Only Time Breakdown" during the song.
Continuing to build up next was "Burn" and as I heard the first notes of the song I couldn't wait for it to start. As usual the song kicked my ass and I had a hell of a time singing back every lyric. Up next was "Gave Up" and I told the fan next to me "Watch this, when the lights come up that whole pit is going to go fucking crazy" and it did. People were absolutely slamming down inside and it was a wondrous sight from slightly up above. This seemed to end "Act 2" and once again we slowed down for the screen to move into place and "Eraser" starts to play.
Throughout "Eraser" Right Where It Belongs" and "Beside You In Time" images were constantly playing while the band played behind the curtain. From where we were standing the curtain was not fully closed and Trent was standing right where we could see, it was cool to be able to watch the imagery as well as glance back down to see the actual performance as well. The crowd reacted well to the imagery, and cheered loudly when the monkey caught the bird as well as booed when the image of President Bush and his wife appeared on screen dancing.
After the three more mellow songs "Sin" kicks in and the crowd once again ramps back up to be rewarded with its final beating. "Only" was the first time I had heard it live and it was powerfully played, but wasn't one of the songs I enjoyed most. On the heels of that was my now solidified, favorite live NIN song "Reptile." I heard it played live in Chicago on 5/6 and was blown away the power of that song as it fills the venue and swallows you. It is unable to be repeated by listening to a recording or the studio version. And although some people are complaining about a few missed beats, it was still a stellar performance of the song! Since I was up in the seats the only thing I could do was to stomp and bang on the rail and stand up on it while screaming back. I stomped so hard during "Reptile" my boot came untied and I spent the first few moments of "Suck" tying it up!
After "Reptile I was actually winded. When "Suck" started I jumped up as quickly as possible and joined back into the melee. The four-song stint seemed to go by too fast (Sin to Suck) and it was onto "Hurt" Once again the crowd mellows a bit and the lighters come out for a phenomenal rendition of the song. Most people are probably contemplating that this is the end of the set when "The Hand That Feeds" and "Head Like a Hole" are waiting up Trent's sleeve to finish us off.
The show went by so fast that when the lights came up I thought they must have been trying to find the guitar that Aaron tossed into the crowd. For a moment I thought, "There is no way the show is over!" The masses down below begin to face the exits and make their exodus out of the venue. As I wasn't counting the songs I was sure their had to be at least a 3 song encore coming. But it was not to be.
Trent and Co. Gave a balls out performance tonight. I'm always impressed every time I get to see the band live. The crowd was great; they were fully into the show and gave back what was being given on stage. We got a few "Thank You's" from Trent but not too much ad-libing tonight. Trent was there to offer up a stellar performance and meant business!
I have heard a lot of people bitching about how "the drummer fucked up Reptile and Closer and blah blah blah" All I can say is that this is a live performance and things are not perfect as they are in the studio. This is not a controlled environment. There are no second or third or fourth takes so that it can be just the way the artist wants it. Alex started with the band 18 HOURS before this show. 18 HOURS! As Trent said, I think he did a hell of a job getting down what he did. To anyone bitching about it, stay home next time and leave the show to people who can forgive a slight mis-step, a bad note, a botched lyric and still say that the show was as great as it was!
After the show the crew from BSF met up inside the venue and strategize where we were going to head out to eat. We all had been apart for the show some of us in seats, others in the pit in various places and it seemed like a group of old friends getting together. We all descended upon the Steak N' Shake and the manager of the place looked like he was going to have a heart attack with all these fans in the restaurant. We had a great time and it was great to see everyone again. siNNer, Ggina, The Me That You Know, Vanilla, Shards, RawChainsaw, Burning Souls.
P.S. Thanks to siNNer for the Spiral Ticket and the show tickets! You more than rock!
Pit: Not Down In It