Wave Goodbye to Nine Inch Nails in New York City

Sep 14, 2009

After seeing Pearl Jam a couple of times over in Europe, I flew back from London to Montreal in order to drive to Toronto for one more show before turning my tour mode towards Nine Inch Nails and their Wave Goodbye tour. These are the final shows of the final tour for Nine Inch Nails. They have been touring hard, non stop, for the last several years and Trent Reznor is now done with touring as this band, and he definitely deserves a break before moving on in a different direction musically. With this presumably being the last chance to see this great act live, I decided to do shows in New York and Los Angeles. The ticket purchasing process was painful yet rewarding at the same time.

Aug 23 – New York, NY (Webster’s Hall)

With a mediocre performance by Pearl Jam in Toronto, I am looking forward to the cheap over night bus ride with Mega Bus down to New York City. For $15, the 11 hour ride is quite comfortable, complete with free wifi internet. We make a stop at the border where everyone gets out to pass customs and then again in Buffalo to drop off a few passengers, but then it is smooth sailing into NYC.

I arrive in Manhattan at around 6:00am at Penn Station and quickly get reacquainted with my surroundings. This is about my tenth time in New York City, second time this summer, but the last visit was cut short. Walking down Broadway, I soon reach Union Square and easily find the venue for tonight’s show, Webster’s Hall. There is already a handful of people waiting in lineup, hoping to secure a spot on the rail, so I sit down at the end of about 25 people and started chatting with a few of them. They don’t have a lot to say, or maybe they are just tired, but many are just grumpy and complaining about various things.  Coming from all parts, they decided to spend the night in the lineup, even though many have not showered since coming straight over at the conclusion of The Bowery Ballroom show from the night before. Now that’s hardcore.

I stay in lineup all morning and then started to wonder what I am doing there. This is not me. I was hoping to make some friends with NIN fans but to be quite honest, most of the fans, at least the ones in the lineup, are just a bit antisocial and pessimistic for me. Guess I’m just use to being around PJ fans. So I leave, much to the delight of the people behind me, and wander around New York a bit. Continuing on down Broadway I make it to China town, where I have lunch. The sun is glaringly hot and my backpack is making me sweat profusely. The extra hot chili sauce I put on my Shanghai noodles probably doesn’t help either. But it’s so yummy.

I get a text from my friend Anthony, who I am going to the show with, and he says that he will be in the city later in the afternoon. Perfect. I continue wandering around little Italy and then back to Union Square, where the line up has grown to the end of the block. Staying out of the heat and to cool down from the chili sauce, I walk pass the line and into the sports bar at the opposite end of the street. There, I meet up with my friends Mic and Jenn, the twins, who I haven’t seen since our memorable after show bbq in the parking of the Continental Arena in East Rutherford, NJ. We relive some great memories, share some laughs over a few drinks, and then Anthony shows up moments later with his crew of NIN fans. Greatly anticipating the show, we do a few rounds of shots and few more beers before entering the venue.

Webster’s Hall has an interesting layout. It is almost as if we are entering a New York style loft. From street level we ascend 2 flights of stairs to get to the entrance lounge area, where I show my driver’s license to the very organized nin.com crew to authenticate my will call pickup. The guy from nin.com hands me my 2 tickets, places the dated wrist band around my arm, and then asks if I was a Pearl Jam fan. He recognizes me from the Touring Van and we chat for a little bit before he advises me to head in, as the band is about to take the stage. We enter the venue and it looks like the size of a living room. Are there really 1,400 people here? In any case, the crowd is tightly squished together, but we want to feel the intensity of a NIN pit one last time.

So Anthony and I work our way into the pit, and when you follow behind someone as big as “Muscles Marinara” people move out of the way for you. The lights go down and the entire band takes the stage, immediately coming at us hard with “Mr Self Destruct.” The pit sways forward and we go with the momentum, inching ever closer to the stage. With each song, the push from behind brings us closer and closer until the band performs the song “Closer.” By this point we are nearly on the rail. When “Ruiner” comes next, we realize what is happening. The band seems to be playing the “Downward Spiral” album in order. Each succeeding song further confirms this fact, with even the instrumentals being played in its place. Wow. However, the deeper they get into the album, the hotter the temperature feels. There isn’t a lot of room up here, and there is even less air available. As the band concludes with “Hurt“, we decide that we have had enough of the heat and we would enjoy the rest of the show with more breathing room in the back.

On the way to the back of the venue, I stop into the washroom to dry off my shirt that is simply drenched in puddles of sweat, most of which is not mine. I squeeze out buckets full into the sink, wash off my face and body as best I can, and return to the show, shirtless and still wet. Anthony is also shirtless and exhausted. We grab a couple of cups of ice and stand behind the bar, which gave surprisingly great views of the stage. There is a cloud hovering over the pit that we were just standing in, and it’s not from the smoke machines but from the humidity of the people tightly packed together instead. With The Downward Spiral played, there is still half a show remaining and the band only continues to build on their intensity from there and it almost seems like the show is starting all over again.

From the back there is a different perspective. You don’t feel the energy from the crowd as much but you can definitely see it, and the sound quality is much better. The crowd is as energetic as I’ve seen any crowd in any show, with lots of action in the middle of it and very loud singalongs as well. We were a little worried after mixed reviews about the show the night before, but this show blows away most shows I’ve seen lately. It is certainly one of, if not the best Nine Inch Nails show I’ve ever seen and this is just the first one of this mini tour for myself. I think this will be a memorable tour, their last one ever.

SETLIST:
Mr Self Destruct * Piggy * Heresy * March Of The Pigs * Closer * Ruiner * The Becoming * I Do Not Want This * Big Man With A Gun * A Warm Place * Eraser * Reptile * The Downward Spiral * Hurt * 1,000,000 * Terrible Lie * Metal * Lights In The Sky * Burn * Gave Up * Suck * Physical * The Hand That Feeds * Head Like A Hole

Aug 25 – New York, NY (Terminal 5)

With one memorable show under our belt, we have a day off to recover from it. I am staying out in Long Island with Anthony and spent the day relaxing at Robert Moses beach, eating foot long burritos, and catching the new Tarantino flick Inglourious Bastards, which is brilliant. In the morning of the show, I hop on the Long Island Express into the city again and take a stroll through Central Park with my friend Nicole. We spend the afternoon in the park before I head over to the West Village to check out the scene at tonight’s venue, Terminal 5. With a capacity of around 3000, this venue is twice the size of the previous and with it, twice as many people in line up. In fact, the lineup runs down the to the end of the block and then continues on across the street and this is just for people who purchased on ticketmaster. Nin.com ticket holders have a completely different lineup and different wristbands as well.

I find Mic in amongst the crowd and accompany her to subway where she enjoys the worst sandwich of her life. Watching them make it, I could already tell it was not going to be edible. We return back to the lineup where a nice group of people have saved her spot, so I hang out for a while. Here are some normal people. We spend the next hour chatting and taking photos of strange looking NIN fans in the lineup. Jen arrives shortly after to take my place and I head out to the local bar to meet up with Anthony and his crew for a few drinks before returning just in time again. In an effort to fight ticket scalping, NIN was trying something different with the ticketing system for the Terminal 5 shows: ticketless tickets. How this works is that we would enter the venue and they would scan the credit card used to purchase the tickets, and once scanned, they would let us in immediate with no tickets being given out or even wristbands. It works perfectly.

Terminal 5 looks like just some warehouse from the outside, situated in between car dealerships, but inside it is a modern looking club. Deciding to take it easy and not get all sweaty again, we take the stairs to check out the view from the balcony. However, the balcony is pretty much useless. It wraps around close to the stage and then sits level all the way back. There’s lots of space, but unless you are on the rail looking down to the stage, you can not see anything. Add to the fact that the left half of the balcony is blocked off for VIP access. So we are forced to descend back to the main floor and “look for our friend” in the pit. Before we know it, we are right smack middle of the pit once again.

The shows starts off with Home leading into Terrible Lie and the show just continues gaining momentum from there. A few songs later came “I’m Afraid of Americans” which really gets the crowd going. This high intensity carries on for a few more moments until we get a break with a few slower ones for us to catch our breath, before the tempo turns up again, highlighted by a ridiculous performance of “The Way Out Is Through“. The non stop action climaxes when Peter Murphy from Bauhaus joins the stage for a few songs including”Reptile“.

And then, just as you thought the show is winding down with the usual closers, they bust out some of my favourites to extend the show, and the volume gets turned up to another notch, especially during “The Day The World Went Away“. As the song progresses into the second half, Justin’s bass begins to pound so hard that I can feel my heart pounding along with it, and full volume is reached by the end of the song. The show is another great one as it never seemed to want to end, building on momentum throughout until the final song. When it finally does finish, we are exhausted and dehydrated again. This time, however, I did not leave the pit and was given lots of water from the security up front throughout, so it wasn’t as bad as Webster’s Hall. And although the crowd was not as good as the previous show, it held its own for most of the night.

We catch our breath outside before walking half an hour to Penn Station for our train ride back to Long Island. On the train, there seems to be a division amongst the passengers. Apparently over at MSG tonight, Britney Spears was performing. So we had half the train full of NIN fans and half the train full of Britney fans. Needless to say, it was a rather comical situation, but we left our counterparts alone as they admire their $50 t-shirts that were purchased from the show. That’s nearly the price of our NIN tickets, tickets that are well worth every penny.

SETLIST:
Home * Terrible Lie * The Beginning Of The End * Discipline * The Line Begins To Blur * I’m Afraid of Americans * Ruiner * The Big Comedown * Burn * Gave Up * La Mer * The Fragile * Eraser * Non Entity * The Way Out Is Through * 1,000,000 * Letting You * Survivalism * Reptile w/Peter Murphy * Kick In The Eye w/Peter Murphy (a Bauhaus song) * The Hand That Feeds * Head Like A Hole * The Frail * The Wretched * The Day The World Went Away * Dead Souls w/Peter Murphy *Wish * Hurt

Aug 26 – New York, NY (Terminal 5)

The ticket purchasing process for these shows was some of the most difficult online sales I’ve ever had experience with. For New York, I only managed to get Webster’s Hall, which in itself was an accomplishment to do. I had no chance on the first show at the Bowery Ballroom, which I could not make anyways, and not a sniff on the 2 Terminal 5 shows. With some ticket shuffling, I was able to trade my spare Webster’s Hall with Anthony for the first Terminal 5 show. The second T5 show, however, I am ticketless. And even in the new ticketless tickets system, that is not good. But there has never been a show that I could not get into, and this one will be no different.

I train into the city with my bags and head over to Jen’s place in Harlem to hangout with the twins. Tomorrow morning I will be catching a bus to Philly from the city, so I will be staying over with them tonight. Looking around on the message boards and other sites on the web, there seems to be more people needing tickets than selling. But I give it a shot anyways by posting my number on the nin.com board simply stating that I need a ticket for tonight. If I don’t get one, it’s not a problem because I will be seeing them in LA next week. We grab some beer at the local grocery store and begin drinking them with a NIN dvd played in the background. A couple of hours later, I receive a call from someone who has a ticket for me, a nin.com presale ticket for face value, and he doesn’t need to go lineup early either so we can meet up later. It was that easy. Awesome, I’m going to the show.

We head to Terminal 5 around 7:30pm and the crowd is just being let in. The twins join the back of the line while I wait for my guy with my ticket. He arrives 30 minutes later and I buy him a beer inside to thank him for the ticket. I said this at the previous show and it didn’t happen, but tonight I will hang back and just watch the show away from the pit. The show begins with the “Pinion/Somewhat Damaged“/”Wish” combo, which is my ideal way to start a show. This gets the crowd right into it almost immediately and then it’s followed by a great performance of “Last” and we know that this will be yet another special performance.

The crowd tonight is again a little bit of a let down, but it might be because I am standing near the back. As the show progresses, I am more and more into the show and say the heck with chilling out in the back, I have no choice but to move up to where everyone is sharing the same enthusiasm for the show as I am. By mid set I am in my usual spot, dead smack middle of the pit, taking some punishment. This time, however, I drop off to the side a bit to gain some extra breathing room. As they finish performing their usual closing song, the band walks off the stage and it appears as though it will end. They almost never do encores. But with this being the final show in New York, an encore was in order.

So back on the stage they go for a few more songs, including an electrifying performance of “Down In It” that got the whole crowd singing along and one fan to stage dive. Then they come back for yet another encore, this time with Peter Murphy again on “Reptile“. But he did not just walk on to the stage with them, he was instead lowered from the ceiling as he hung up side down in a straight jacket, and then proceeded to sign the song while upside down in mid air. Unbelievable. After the song, he tears open the jacket and plays a few more songs to extend the show to nearly 3 hours long. Man am I glad I was able to get a ticket for this show.

All in all, the New York shows were some of the best I have ever seen from any band, in some of the most interesting venues in the city. I was able to catch up with friends I have not seen in a while, and explore a little bit of the big apple at the same time. Thank you to Anthony, Chris, Joe, Mic, Jenn, Nicole, Gregg, & Paris for everything. It was a blast and definitely well worth the effort. Looking forward now to the final show in Los Angeles next week.

SETLIST:
Pinion/Somewhat Damaged * Wish * Last* Sin * March of The Pigs * Something I Can Never Have * Piggy (Nothing Can Stop Me Now)” * Metal * Terrible Lie * Head Down * Burn * Gave Up * La Mer * The Frail * The Wretched * Non-Entity * Gone, Still * Lights In The Sky * The Downward Spiral * 1,000,000 * Survivalism * The Good Soldier * Dead Souls * Hurt
~~~~~
Suck * Down In It * The Hand That Feeds * Head Like A Hole
~~~~~
Reptile w/Peter Murphy * A Strange Kind Of Love/Bela Lugosi’s Dead w/Peter Murphy * Final Solution w/Peter Murphy (Pere Ubu cover)

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