Wave Goodbye to Nine Inch Nails in Los Angeles

Sep 18, 2009

Originally I was not planning to do any of the shows in Los Angeles because I was already out in the east coast, so New York and Chicago just made more sense. What’s more is that I was booked for a wedding party in Wisconsin the weekend of these final shows, and along with it, a flight booked for Vancouver to send me back home. This flight was booked far in advance as part of the insurance payout that I had fought so hard for in my car accident claim. After finally getting the American insurance company, State Farm, to agree to pay for my flight home, they required me to book it immediately in order for them to reimburse my costs.

When tickets went on sale, I was not successful in acquiring tickets for New York, only getting 1 out of 4 shows. So I remained logged in on the nin.com system and turned my attention to buying tickets to Chicago, which were on sale an hour later. This proved to be a piece of cake for both shows. It was so easy in fact, that I did not make the purchase and began reevaluating my schedule, realizing that I could possibly make the final show in Los Angeles, as it is the day after the wedding. Looking at my options, it seems to be too expensive to make any changes, however, looking at brand new flights, prices do not seem too bad. Just over $200 will bring me to Los Angeles in time for the show, and back to Vancouver later in the week through expedia. So I thought if I was lucky enough to get tickets to the final show at the Echoplex, I will book a brand new flight and spend a week in LA. After all, I did not pay for my flight home, so I wouldn’t be wasting my money. So with this new option clear in my mind, I went into the LA presale full of confidence and prevailed, scoring 2 tickets to the last and final Nine Inch Nails show at the Echoplex. In fact, all of my friends that were trying for tickets got them as well, we hit the lottery. Los Angeles here I come.

Sep 6 – Los Angeles, CA (Echoplex)

Using the first leg of my original itinerary, I fly from Montreal to Madison, WI for Tom and Ingrid’s wedding, carrying all of my luggage which I brought with me to Montreal via car. A few nights of hard partying finished with a huge night on wedding day making me feel sick and restless. Congratulations to Tom and Ingrid. With nothing still open after the party, we return back to the hotel, where I am able to get just over an hour of sleep before going to the airport for my 6:00am flight. Waiting for my boarding time, my sickness takes a turn for the worst and I throw up three times prior to take off. This is a good thing, otherwise my flight would have been horrendous. With my old flight thrown away, I fly into Chicago for a connecting flight to Los Angeles, where I arrive at around 9:00am to pick up my rental car.

First order of business in Los Angeles, as always, is to head straight to Westwood and the UCLA campus for some In N Out Burgers followed by some Diddy Reese ice cream sandwiches. This is my absolute favourite thing to do in Los Angeles and I wanted to spread the word around about it, so I pick up my friend Sarah at her hotel to join in on the deliciousness. At this point, I haven’t eaten since the wedding dinner and I had thrown up multiple times in the morning, so this food is either going to destroy me even more or save me. To my surprise the 4×4 burger settles my stomach down and then the macadamia nut cookies wrapped around the rocky road ice cream is just icing on the cake and I feel much better after wards. Sarah loves it too.

What doesn’t make me feel good, however, is the news that Sarah informs me about the NIN shows being changed. Tonight’s show is still a go, but it is no longer the final show anymore. Trent, as well as most of the crew and band members, has not been feeling well at all lately in the final wee hours of his nin career, so the previous 2 shows at the Henry Fonda Theatre and The Wiltern last week were canceled. A reshuffling of shows occurred due to this disappointment combined with probably the fact that he would rather end NIN in style at the Wiltern rather than at the tiny Echoplex, because the small Bowery Ballroom show in NY was not as special as they had expected. The rescheduling puts the Henry Fonda show after the Echoplex followed by the final show at the Wiltern on thursday Sept 10, the day I am scheduled to fly out of LA. That’s just great. The whole point was for me to see the final NIN show. But I’ve seen my fair of shows and I am not concern with this new development. Many people have been screwed with flights and hotels needing to be extended by a week, but I, on the other hand, will simple look at my options latter in the week in terms of rescheduling flights, and just enjoy the show tonight.

The reason I had allowed for a couple of extra days in Los Angeles in the first place was so I could visit Cali Joe and Kasie whom I have not seen since the Bonnaroo Festival over a year ago. With Kasie being a bigger Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails fan, I offer to take her to the show. We meet up at the venue, which comprises of a few hundred fans lined up already, some of which have been lined up since the cancellation of the previous shows. At the front of the line is Amy, who has been waiting patiently while entertaining a stray cat for a couple of days already. That’s dedication. Escaping the madness, we grab some dinner at a Spanish Restaurant nearby, which turns out to be pretty good, except for the absence of Sangria on their menu.

We return to the lineup which has not shrunk yet, but the doors have just opened. Joe hangs around looking for a ticket to the show, and discovers another line at the other end for ticketless fans. Apparently they have released 20 more tickets already, so he decides to give it a shot and hang out there for a chance to go in. It takes around 30 mins, but we eventually reach the front of the lineup. Once there, we were let in to the ticket counter one at a time to verify my id before distributing our tickets and wristbands, a very scalper-proof system that works like a charm. We walk through the parking lot and enter the venue from the back door.

The Echoplex is located on a split level street with the Echo club on the street above it. Essentially, it is the basement of the Echo, and being a basement, it is tiny with low ceilings. Rumours have swirled around on how big the place actually is, anywhere from 300 to 700 capacity. There is a bar at the back of the floor and a bar in the middle, but standing behind the bar in the middle, your view is obstructed by the beams, pipes and insulation that run through the ceiling of any normal basement, as well as the bar itself. So this area is mainly empty throughout the show. From what I gather, the main pit in front of the stage is the only area where you can see the stage, and this is probably what the 300 capacity comes from. This place makes Webster’s Hall look like Buckingham Palace. Kasie and I feel very lucky to be in amongst the few hundred in this tiny room to see this massive band.

Being such a small venue with low ceilings, you can tell that the temperature is just going soar through the roof. So to avoid the heat and the crowd, we find an elevated platform in the corner off to the side with a great view over the pit. Being behind the crowd, we are still only 10 to 12 meters from the stage, with a giant fan cooling off the venue in front of us as well. This seems to be the ideal spot cause it’s going to get hot. The support band, Health, takes the stage and puts on a very energetic and very loud show. They are a decent opener and sets the stage for what will be a spectacular night. And our ears are going to blow in the process. We grab a few drinks from the deserted bar from the back and plant ourselves onto our spot.

When NIN takes the stage, they casually starts their set with a slower beginning to “Somewhat Damaged” before all hell breaks loose in the middle of the song. The heat jumps up 20 degrees, and the volume skyrockets along with it. The crowd is going nuts and those who were not in the pit before, are all in it now. We continue to watch somewhat comfortably by the giant fan in the corner. It is unclear whether there is actually air conditioning in this place, as the temperature constantly drops momentarily before suddenly jumping up again rapidly. Trent even asks for the ac to be turned up at one point. The show is rather normal as far as set lists goes, and it is a more tone down show much like the Bowery Ballroom was supposeably like. But to be in such a small space for the show, in itself, is very special. We can feel every note in our bodies, as the volume level causes the entire venue to shake along with the music. I could literally see the walls moving. And even though we are standing right by the giant fan and away from the crowd, we are sweating like dogs. I can only imagine what it’s like inside of the pit.

Near the end of the set, Gary Numan joins them on stage for a few songs which is pretty cool, although they did not play “Cars” like they did at the previous show at the Palladium last week. During the encore break, I spot the twins from New York, Mic and Jen, in the crowd so I holler at them. They say hi and then step back towards our area to watch the remaining of the show. All in all it is a solid show with nothing that really sticks out that would make it extra special. Kasie thoroughly enjoyed it, and as did I. But I’m glad that this is not the final show, as I would have expected them to go out with a little more of a bang. I’m sure Trent is still recovering from his sickness, but I am also sure he is aware of the setting of the Echoplex and thus thought having a final show in such a small place would not make sense. The Wiltern is just a nicer building, with better sound quality, and it holds more fans to send them off on their farewell. I will just have to explore my options now to see if it’s logical for me to change my flight by one day. Joe hung around the venue for the start of the show but never got in.

SETLIST:
Somewhat Damaged * The Beginning Of The End * The Collector * Discipline * March Of The Pigs * Something I Can Never Have * The Frail The Wretched * Terrible Lie * Ruiner * Head Down * Burn * Gave Up * La Mer * Non-Entity * Gone, Still * The Big Come Down * The Way Out Is Through * Wish * Survivalism * Down In It * Metal w/Gary Numan * I Die: You Die w/Gary Numan * Physical * The Hand That Feeds * Head Like A Hole
~~~~~
Dead Souls * Hurt

Sep 10 – Los Angeles, CA (The Wiltern)

The next day is labour day, a day of rest for all of us hard working folks. For me this year I have worked a total of 0 days, so needless to say, I deserve the day off, if only a day off from all of the hectic shows. It also happens to be Joe’s mom’s birthday today, so we have a nice bbq at her place around their lovely jacuzzi pool, which was still in construction the last time I visited. Sipping on Coronas in the pool, we enjoy Kasie’s to-die-for 7 layer dip as appetizers before having some equally as tasty corn and ahi tuna. I make my contribution with imported Montreal smoke meat from Schwartz. The day is very relaxing with good company all around. I even chatted with Joe’s mom about UFC and boxing, as she is apparently an avid fan of George St Pierre in addition to The Wizard of Oz.

When we return back to Joe and Kasie’s place in Ventura, the night begins to wind down and I begin looking around for options on flights. Changing my flight is once again out of the question, however, Alaska Airlines has a one way flight from LAX to YVR for $150 including taxes. Done. Now all I need is a ticket to this much sought after show. But with all the changes that occurred, there are bound to be people refunding tickets, so I am not worried. I send out a text message to a few people that I know and immediate get a reply from my friend Malina informing me that nin.com just released some more tickets less than a minute ago. I quickly log in and am successful in purchasing my ticket to the Wiltern. I ask Joe if he wanted to go, as there are probably still some tickets available, and he says hell yeah. Within a minute, Joe is able to sign up for both nin.com and their musictoday ticket page, and then purchase a ticket to the last ever Nine Inch Nails show. We are now set and going to the show.

With the Wiltern all sorted out, I decide to skip the rescheduled show at the Henry Fonda, and stay in Ventura for some surf, some relaxation, and some Mexican food. When Thursday Sept 10 rolls around, Kasie drops me off early at Avis to pickup a rental car and I head into the city stopping only at In N Out burger. Joe is at work in Santa Barbara all day, so I figure that I would line up for once and save us a decent seat for the show, as he expects to arrive near show time. It takes roughly an hour to get through light traffic before I am in Hollywood, where I park at a nearby parking lot for $12 and then arrive at The Wiltern, venue for the final show, at 1:00pm.

As I round the corner of the entrance, I see the massive lineup on the other side of the building. The lineup is for picking up tickets, as the first 250 or so tickets will be given access to the pit. Last time I was at the venue was for the Eddie Vedder tour, where they had reserved seating through out the entire building including in the pit, so this will be much different. The venue is completely general admission, but there is only a limited amount of space in the pit. From there, the lower section is staggered into 3 tiers that gradually step up towards the back, and then there is a balcony full of seats. So many fans are hoping for the extra wrist band that grants you pit access. The group at the front of the line has been here since tuesday, skipping the Henry Fonda show. The next group came here immediately after that show, Sarah is in that group.

I walk further down the line, which seems endless, and notice some interesting ways for people to keep comfortable. There are sleeping bags, pillows, inflatable mattresses, inflatable rafts, even cushions normally used for pets to sit on are used for the patiently waiting fans. To stay away from the sun, there are umbrellas of all sorts in the area including some tropical straw tiki ones. The lineup is rather colourful. It continues on for 2 blocks on Western Ave and then it rounds the corner on 7th, this is where the lineup ends. I walk to the end, and there is a gap between the last person and the lineup. I can tell that this person is also in the lineup, as he is joyfully eating his lunch in the shade provided by a tiny tree. Smart guy. I stake out my spot behind him, also in the shade of the tiny tree, leaving the same gap, which is being scorched on by the sun, open. I spend the next few hours chatting with some pretty nice fans. The group in front of me came down from Michigan, while the ones behind me drove down from Northern California. All of us share the limited amount of shade from the magical tree and wait patiently for 3pm, when the tickets will be handed out.

Parked beside where we are standing, I can’t help but notice a red Ford Aerostar minivan all painted up. This is apparently the NIN version of the Touring Van. It’s has the traditional NIN spray painted on the front and on the sides there is white spray painted through the body with birds marked out in black all over. There is a space on the other side for fans to sign and write comments on, and there is even a space for band autographs, but this section is still empty. A black sharpie surprisingly sits on top of one of the door handles, presumably for fans to use on the van, but I am more impressed at the fact that it has not been stolen yet. I peak inside and it looks pretty dingy. Word is that this van has driven to a bunch of shows in the west coast during the NINJA tour last year and now to Los Angeles for these shows, so it’s just a regional touring van. Seems like child’s play to me. The Dodge Ram beats the Ford Aerostar any day of the week. Good effort though.

Throughout the afternoon, I am constantly buying more water to rehydrate myself. Even having the benefit of the tree, the temperatures are still exhausting. I receive a text from one of the NY twins, Jen, stating that her friend has bailed out on the show because she can’t get off of work, so she asks if I know anyone needing a spare. I tell her that I would find someone, as I’ve noticed a few people coming around throughout the day asking for tickets. A few moments later I grab one of these people coming by and let them know of the available ticket. I know this guy is a fan because of the wrist bands he’s got on his arm from the other shows. The line then begins to move slowly, as the tickets are being handed out. Everyone takes down their furniture and moves along with it. With a very systematic way as usual, the process is slow, but efficient. Jen arrives soon after the initial move, and we get her ticket sorted out. By the time we enter the ticket distribution station, all of the wrist bands for pit access have been given out. That means there were over 250 people in front of us. No problem though, I am aiming for the balcony to save a seat for Joe anyways.

We get our tickets and wristbands and then head back around the entrance to other side of the venue on Wilshire Blvd, where the line up runs down 2 blocks and then around the corner. We get our spot and slowly watch the line continue to expand down another block and wrap around the corner to where we were standing earlier on 7th Ave, before continuing on down Western Ave on the other side. This is ridiculous. There would be cars driving by asking what the hell was going on. With capacity of the Wiltern at just over 2200, it appears that everyone is already in lineup. Our friendly neighbours agree to save our spots so Jen and I head over to the local bar for a few drinks before the show. Sarah and Malina both join in for one as well. When it’s time for the doors to open, we retake our spot in line and wait for our turn to enter the venue.

Once inside, it is a mob at the merchandise booth. Everyone wants one of the limited event specific t-shirts for the final show. Malina and I are in the middle of this mob waiting patiently, but I can’t seem to find Jen who was waiting with me. I send her a text and she replies that she has a couple of seats in the 2nd row of the balcony saved for me and Joe. Good girl. When I get my t-shirt, I find our seats and they are excellent, just over looking the stage on the right side. In the middle of the balcony are a few empty sections reserved for VIP seating. There are quite a few celebrity NIN fans out there, especially with this being the Wiltern. Apparently, model Adrianne Curry is a huge NIN fan and has already been spotted in the lineup waiting in the hot sun since 8am this morning. At the Eddie Vedder gig last time in this building, it was celebrity central, so it shall be interesting to see who turns up.

I send a message to Joe informing him of our seat locations, and he turns up midway through the set of the opening band IO Echo, who are very entertaining. Like Kasie, this is also Joe’s first NIN show and he is very excited. We head out to grab a giant Corona each, which costs $15, and bring it back to our seats to watch the VIPs roll in. As I take my seat, I spot Sarah down below dead smack center on the rail of the pit, so I text her informing her that I found waldo. She replies and says that she can hear the radio on the security notifying the arrival of some VIPs. We turn around and sure enough spot a hand full of them making their entrance, including Tony Hawk, Tony Kanal the bassist from No Doubt, Rick Rubin the producer, and Penn from Penn & Teller. The latter two, in fact, are sitting just a few seats over from me in the front row. These are the people I recognize anyways. Then a huge roar comes from down below in the pit and a chant starts for Ron. Ron Jeremy has entered the building. He acknowledges the crowd and comes down to the front row to shake hands with Penn, although I am not sure the magician wants to shake hands with a porn star. However, he is soon confronted by security. We are not exactly sure what is going on, but It seems as though they they are asking Ron to produce a ticket. The discussion continues up the row back to the entrance of the section, and it appears that Ron Jeremy is getting the boot from the front row for some reason. It is all very comical to watch, as it keeps us entertained until the band comes on.

When it’s show time, NIN goes through their motions for a normal show during the first set, but also brings on David Bowie’s pianist Mike Garson for a number of songs including a powerful version of “Just Like You Imagined” before giving way to Gary Numan for his lot of songs to end the first set. The band comes back on just by themselves for a powerful encore that ends with a couple of regular show closing songs. So I take a peak at my watch and it’s 11:30pm, they’ve played about 2:15 so far, but this can’t be it. They thank the crowd and leave the stage. “I’m waiting for them to start breaking stuff” Joe says to me. I assure him that there will be some breakage, as it is their last show, so why should they care.

When Trent comes back on to the stage he is joined by his studio partner, Atticus Ross, for a few songs and then by Dave Navarro who heard that there was a camera in the building. With Atticus on stage, it is a more electronic set, but it ends with Trent tossing his guitar up in the air and pushing his keyboard off the stage during Gave Up, much to our enjoyment. It’s also a sign of things to come. During the encore break, another drum kit is brought onto stage, to which I thought they were setting up to play “Perfect Drug” finally for the first time. However, this is not the case.

“I hope you guys aren’t getting tired?” Trent asks while he comes back for a third encore. This time he is joined by all of Dillinger Escape Plan for some carnage. They start out with “Mr. Self Destruct” throwing cymbals and light stands around and then Trent tells us that their plan has changed and that they are going to start destroy the stage now. Joe and I cheer madly as they go into “Wish“, which is just total destruction. The bass drum from the second drum kit is ripped apart and they begin beating on it with their bare hands. The signer from Dillinger Escape Plan then stage dives in to the crowd feet first, before the guitarist joins him to a lesser extent as the song closes. The drum kit is once again the target of their destruction, as a drop kick takes down the remaining pieces. This is more of what we were hoping for. With the drums needing to be piece back together, it is almost like another unofficial encore break before the show continues on again.

After a few Joy Division covers, Trent thanks his band, his crew, the fans, and clarifies that just because they are no longer touring as NIN doesn’t mean they will stop making music. In fact, they will continue to work together on future projects. This leads into an awesome performance of “The Day The World Went Away“, which for me is the ideal way to end the show and their tour on. However, they continue on with “Hurt” and then the conclusion with “In This Twilight“, which is also an excellent way to end on, as each band member puts down their instruments one at a time and walks off the stage one by one until Trent remains by himself, giving a final wave at the end.

Wow, what an unbelievable show. Now this is going out with a bang. My watch reads 12:45am, as the show lasted over 3:30 hours and around 38 songs. What a marathon. We stand in our seats for a moment to make sure it is actually over because there has been many times throughout the show that it could have ended but was extended. When the house lights come on, we know it is over, but we still remain standing at our seats to make sure that it is over. “I’m kind of disappointed” Joe says. “This is my first NIN experience and I’ll never get to experience this again.” Those mix feelings are going through my mind as well. It has been one big adrenaline rush since this mini tour started back in New York and it has climaxed here tonight. Is it really over? Is this really the final time I’ll see NIN? My mind is numb after this brilliant show, without much words to be said. It was simple an extraordinary show.

I say goodbye to Jen and then to Joe, thanking him for the hospitality as usual. After we part ways, I meet up Amy, who made it just in time from Phoenix after she was not sure if it was going to happen. We say hi and exchange a few words. “I’m kind of glad that this is over in a way.” She says. “It’s really difficult to follow 2 bands on tour.” I concur and we say bye, but we both know that we will see each other in Seattle in 2 weeks for Pearl Jam. I then meet up with Sarah and being stilled wired from the show, we attempt to make one last In N Out stop, but it is already closed, so we head back to her hotel, where we are splitting a room with her friend Christo for the night, and we pass out from exhaustion. Los Angeles has been exceptionally fun. Thanks to Joe, Kasie, Sarah, Jen, Mic, Molina, Amy, and the nice people in the Wiltern lineup for a wonderful time. I wake up the next morning, expecting to go to another show but there is none. I am instead going to the airport and flying home to Vancouver. My ears could probably use the break, and I could probably catch up on some sleep, but all the effort and money put into this was worth every bit of it, and I want more. NIN is the Perfect Drug.

Sure, Trent will probably continue to perform and play shows, maybe even NIN reunion shows, but there’s nothing like touring with a band, and this is their final tour. Thank you Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails for all of the music you’ve provided, all of the fan interaction projects you’ve allowed us to be involved with, and all of the efforts you’ve put into your live performances. You guys are revolutionaries in the music industry and you can teach other bands a thing or 2 about the music business. Perhaps Trent can be a consultant for other bands and show them how to do it. Good luck with whatever it is you guys are going to venture into, I’m definitely looking forward to it.

Nine Inch Nails – 1989 to 2009 – Wave Good Bye

So that’s one down and one still going. What will happen if Pearl Jam ever does a farewell tour?

SETLIST:
Home * Somewhat Damaged * The Collector * Discipline * March of The Pigs * Something I Can Never Have * The Frail * The Wretched * Ruiner * Head Down * Burn * Just Like You Imagined w/Mike Garson * La Mer w/Mike Garson * Eraser w/Mike Garson * The Becoming (Still) w/Mike Garson * Down In The Park Intro * w/Mike Garson * Down In The Park w/Gary Numan * Metal w/Gary Numan * I Die: You Die w/Gary Numan
~~~~~
1,000,000 * Letting You * Survivalism * Suck * Down In It * The Hand That Feeds * Head Like A Hole
~~~~~
Me, I’m Not w/Atticus Ross * The Warning w/Atticus Ross & Dave Navarro * Piggy (Nothing Can Stop Me Now) w/Dave Navarro * Gave Up w/Dave Navarro
~~~~~
Mr. Self Destruct w/The Dillinger Escape Plan * Wish w/The Dillinger Escape Plan
~~~~~
Atmosphere (Joy Division cover) * Dead Souls (Joy Division cover) * The Good Soldier * The Day The World Went Away * Hurt * In This Twilight

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