Nine Inch Nails kicked off their fall tour--their first large-venue tour in 6 years--last night here in San Diego. And they fucking kicked ass, at least for 43 minutes, until the drummer Jerome Dillon ran off stage with chest pains and heart palpitations. Twenty minutes later they canceled the show, and today canceled tonight's show in Tuscon. Here's a pretty accurate summary of events.
In terms of arena-rock shows filled with rabid fans starved for cultish bands like NIN, I'd say the crowd handled the upset really well. Anyone remember the riots Axl Rose started in the early 90's by ending GNR shows early? Today Trent posted on the NIN site: "Just heard Jerome is doing OK. No details. See you in Phoenix. I'd like to personally thank the audience in San Diego for your understanding and the respect you displayed last night. I will make it up to you." (They plan to make it up to us November 20.) I think it helped that Trent stepped out on stage to inform us, twice, about what was going on while we waited in the dark. (When he first stepped out I considered he might say something about Katrina. After all, he lived and recorded in New Orleans from 1995 until a few months ago.)
But those 43 minutes, wow. (We were in the pit, about 10 people back from the stage, engulfed in bouncing bodies, piercings, and pot smoke.) Trent revealed his brand new look--guns as thick as my thighs and a shaved head. Somehow his tormented little-boy-who-has-to-pee-himself on-stage posturing doesn't play as well when he looks like the meatheads who ostracized him in high school, but as long as he's still an outsider on the inside, I'm down. I guess being sober all the time has left him with little to do but lift heavy things repeatedly. As for the music, I was happy to hear lots of old material. By my recollection, 8 of the 12 songs were more than 10 years old. Really brought me back to my teenage days of thrashing to the stuff and drawing razor blades across my flesh. Several times I got goose bumps.
The set and lighting stood out too. Dominated by big LEGO-like glowing blocks covered in LEDs, resembling stalagmites and stalactites ripped from an old Atari game. And a rack of lights positioned above the band and can descend right down upon them. A huge screen with electronic graphics loomed behind them, and for some songs a thin curtain dropped before them that could be projected upon. Overall, typically elegant and innovative.
The award for character of the night is shared by two individuals. The man behind us coming in wore a black jumpsuit scattered with patches and had long braids dangling out of the top of his hat. He couldn't shut his trap and kept yapping at the dude who frisked us. "You don't know what I had to do to get these tickets man!" We called him Slipknot. He was of course the first to crowd surf and get pulled out of the crowd by security.
For the females (arguably) we have Vinyl Chick, in full goth-slut regalia. She was stuck in the bleachers but spent the whole time dancing like a palsied tranced-out whore on E. Even during the opening band, when everyone else was sitting. She had a nice body and bent forward a lot, letting her short skirt come up. The guy she was with, who remained stoicly in his seat, must have been relieved when security forced her to sit down, as half the area was watching her. Also because she immediately began to suck on his neck and massage his groin region. (Still stoic, though.) On the way out, I heard security discussing whether Vinyl Chick was a dude.
For discussion, set list, and links to photos, go here.
Previously on SilverJacket: Bite Me