FlashBack Friday – Nine Inch Nails
When I decided to write about this particular event for this week’s FlashBack Friday I didn’t think about the date of the show. Looking at the ticket stub I scanned in specifically for this post, I noticed that the concert in question was almost exactly 14 years ago. Seriously, where does the time go?
I should preface this by saying that Nine Inch Nails is probably my all time favorite band. Yes, I know, I’ve said that about the Beatles too. (schizophrenic music tastes anyone?) So, let’s put it this way: I grew up with the Beatles; they were part of my life before I even knew what music was. I chose NIN. The first time I ever heard Trent Reznor’s particular sound (1989) I was won over. In fact, I’ve often joked with CableDad that there’s not a man in the world I’d cheat on him with…. except Trent.
A few weeks ago Maria at Immortal Matriarch wrote this awesome post (but let’s face it does she ever write a post that’s not awesome?) about her Laminated List. At the time I swore to myself that I was going to follow her example and do my own list. #1 was easy. Trent Reznor. (The next two also came pretty quickly… but I’m not saying any more on that until the post itself. Next week sometime, I’d guess.)
The first time I ever heard Trent, it was a recording of “The Only Time” on a mix tape of made by Mom’s Tinfoil Hat‘s ex-boyfriend. Closely on the heels of that exposure I made my way to the record store (yeah, I still call them record stores) and got a discounted copy of Pretty Hate Machine, five fingered discount at that.
Sorry Trent. I’ve more than made up for it in the past 20 years. Halos 1 through 15 were purchased with a ritualistic fervor as soon as they came out. The others, excepting Halo 23 and Halo 25, were also purchased, just in a less timely fashion. In fact, the recent arrival in the mail of my copy of Halo 26 is probably what instigated this post.
Although, to be honest, since he himself tells his fans that they should steal his music, I doubt he’d have a problem with the fact that I liberated his first album from “the man”.
But more on Trent’s music and my infatuation with him and it later. Today I’m talking about the best concert I have ever gone to in my life… and I’ve been to A LOT of shows.
Early May, 1994: I’m living in Boston and I hear an announcement on BCN that NIN is touring and will be doing a show in town. I immediately called my friend Veresk (ok, maybe not immediately. I mean seriously, who had mobile phones in the 90s? I had to wait until I got home to call her) to tell her that she’ll be hopping on a bus from Northampton and getting her ass in to the city for the show. That settled, I gathered the necessary items to camp out at the Tower Records on Newbury street the night before the show. I was the 10th person on line. The venue held only a few hundred people and was general admission. You do the math.
Veresk arrived in town the day of the show, no small feat since it was midweek and she was in the middle of final exams, and we started the pre-show rituals… drinking heavily, smoking preposterous amounts of weed and heading to Southie for the show. We got there early enough to make sure we’d be able to be at the front of the crowd when Trent came on but were skeptical about bothering for the opening act. We debated the issue, looking at the crowd. It didn’t look like more than 300 people, but we were not going to miss on the chance to have Trent sweat on us, so up to the front we went early.
I should mention that although I LOVE to mosh, Veresk isn’t really the aggressive type, so this was a bit of an issue.
When the lights went out my pulse started racing. Two bands opened for him, one of which I barely remember. The second opener, on the other hand… well, I wasn’t ready for what came out on stage. Veresk and I stood shoulder to shoulder as a lanky guy with a top hat and kick ass tattoos on his arms walked out to a low rhythmical drum and swirly music (yeah, I was still very into “seeing” sounds back then) quietly chanting words that we both knew and knew not why. All at once it struck us both: Oh my fucking god, it’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory! STOP THE BOAT!!!!
And that was my first introduction to Marilyn Manson. Trent had signed Manson and earlier in the year produced his (Manson’s) first major album on his (Trent’s) self created Nothing Records. What an opener. But, as much as I enjoyed my first Manson show, it was nothing to the sight I was about to see.
I remember it clearly. The NIN show opened with “Pinion” and broke into “Terrible Lie”. For the first time in my life I understood all the silly girls screaming and nearly passing out at Beatles’ shows. I’m sure I screamed. But I didn’t pass out. No, I went mosh crazy with Trent literally less than 10 feet from me. I don’t recall exactly what was the order for the rest of the line up, but I distinctly remember hearing nearly all of my (at the time) favorite NIN tunes: “Sin”, “Wish”, “March of the Pigs”, “The Only Time” (the song that popped my NIN cherry), “Get Down Make Love”, “Head Like a Hole”, “Closer”, “Reptile”, “Dead Souls”… oh and joy of joys, “Happiness in Slavery” was the last encore.
I spent the majority of my youth high on any number of substances, but I’m entirely honest when I say that nothing compared to the high I felt walking out of that show. My knees were weak, my heart was pounding, my ears ringing and my mind was close to shutting down from pure pleasure overload.
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