And All That Could Have Been: Nine Inch Nails, HEALTH @ Echoplex, 9/6/09

With the amount of shows I travel to, it was bound to happen at some point.

Canceled. The C word.

The final Nine Inch Nails shows that people had traveled from all over the world for- two of the last three were canceled and then rescheduled for the following week. Trent was sick and had to postpone the shows under doctor’s orders.

I could talk about how this affected the NIN community- ruined birthday plans, canceled flights, screwed over people who traveled and ended up not being able to go to a show, ticket +1 losses due to non-transferable names, people that may forever go unmet in real life, heartache, anger, dissatisfaction. I could analyze the economic impact of these final NIN shows, and how it has probably doubled with people who have extended their travel with expensive last minute changes. I could mention how people have put their jobs in jeopardy for these shows, maxed out credit cards, fought with significant others and friends over this. But I won’t.

I could also tell you all that I learned about LA since I didn’t have shows to go to. I could tell you about how I would love to live at the Sunset Marquis, how having separate run ins with That 70s Show cast members was odd, or how short the dude from Sum 41 is, or how DJ AMs tribute night was sad, or how we barely missed seeing Posh and Becks at the Chateau Marmont, or that Teddy’s at The Roosevelt severely lacks male eye candy. I could tell you about how I lived on a straight diet of dirty martinis and shots of Patron to forget about this NIN trip clusterfuck, how I did some ghetto booty dancing in 4 inch studded heels, and how I ended up skinnydipping, all without getting hit on by a decent guy the entire time I was in LA. But I won’t.

We did spend a lot of time like this though:

iphone

how did we live without iphones?

I didn’t think this Echoplex show could get more stressful…but it did, even up until the music started. I had been locked out of getting tickets, but had finally secured one due to help from lots of people about a week before. This was such a hot ticket that even people who should have pull with getting on lists couldn’t do so for this show. Once the other shows were canceled and rescheduled, this became the only show some people could attend. And the Echoplex only holds 450 people.

nin bitches

hardrockchick and trzdnsmommie ready to go!

The person who bought my ticket was late, but luckily a good friend held a spot for me. Then security wouldn’t let me take my purse in because of the chains on it, so I had to leave it in the car and try to stuff things in my pocket, which meant no camera. Luckily, the line situation was made better because I got to see several old friends and meet some new ones that I’d known online for awhile but had never met in real life.

band

shirt

Let me take a moment to say that I’m touched by the people who came up to me over the course of this LA trip- once even in the Rainbow Room- to introduce themselves and say they read my site. It means a lot. I felt like a mini-celeb.

line

signs

wavegoodby

It surprised me when I went inside that I was able to take a spot on the rail at the extreme left side of the stage. No one wanted it; perhaps because it was in front of a huge stack of speakers- but I got good earplugs. The Echoplex is not meant to be a music venue for bands like this- the area in front of the stage probably only holds 200 people. I didn’t go to the back bar room, but I can tell you it can’t be ideal for watching a show. It’s interesting that this venue felt so much smaller than the slightly larger Bowery Ballroom, but the stage was bigger.

There was no point in trying to get merch. Some professional scalper types have decided to buy the merch in hordes and leave the show before the band even goes on and go sell them for ridiculous amounts on eBay. Ridiculous. None of this crap was happening at the NYC shows- everyone was so much more easygoing and not whipped up into this ‘desperate times call for desperate measures’ mentality.

health

HEALTH took the stage and, boy, do they have energy. I was watching them jump around when a dark figure appeared at the door the band had entered through. I realize that I’m eye level with Trent Reznor while he watches the band. I was pleased to notice that, like myself, he rocks out a bit to the beat of the songs. He was standing there for a while until Gary Numan joined him- who seemed particularly dazzled by the performance. Coulda been the eyeliner though. HEALTH thanked Trent a couple times for inviting them back for these shows. I really enjoyed their performance. They are loud and are a busy band- all of them play multiple instruments and are constantly shifting things around. They are really into it as well. My girlfriend (who flew in for these shows, couldn’t get into Echoplex, and thus didn’t get to go to any shows) pointed out that its ironic that the opener is called HEALTH considering TR’s NINfluenza and JMJ’s mom.

rail

During the changeover, I looked around and surveyed the crowd. It seemed that it was only the real fans that got in- but the mood wasn’t as happy/excited as the Bowery show. I could hear some of them talking about this potentially being their last show ever- hugging their friends and reliving memories. I looked further down the barrier towards the middle where my girlfriend and others I’ve come to know over the years are standing front and center- sleepless due to their near 72 hour wait (they started doing shifts in line on Friday), emotional, but still excited. That 15 feet of center rail at a NIN show has got to be some of the most valuable real estate in music. A cameraman sets up in front of the rail, and then oddly enough one came into the middle of the pit. I felt bad for everyone around him….and I don’t know how the cameraman did it. Humpty Dance played during the setup music…which I thought was odd, especially since there was a Burger King across the street.

crowd

When the band hit the stage and launched into ‘Somewhat Damaged’, I wished that I could think that we were getting The Fragile front to back, but the Gary Numan sighting proved that unlikely. By song three, I determined that this was going to be very similar to the Bowery setlist as well- a survey of all the albums. My spot obstructed any view of Ilan and most of JMJ, though I could peep at him between the speakers. But I was able to stay upright against the rail and had a great view of Robin and Reznor.

At first Reznor’s voice sounded really good, but it started to strain about a third of the way through. ‘The Frail’ into ‘The Wretched’ was the first highlight as it had been a while since I’d heard that.

TR

The band seemed to be in a great mood considering everything that has happened over the past week. Trent was pulling out his moves for some of the songs, and changing up the words and endings of some tracks to either make them dirtier or make us giggle: excessive breathing at the end of ‘Discipline’ is one example. He talked a bit; apologizing for the situation with the shows, thanking everyone, and talking about how the venue needed to turn the AC on. It was hot in there, but nowhere near the Webster show.

nin

It’s interesting that Trent is not throwing the prized tambourines anymore. Guess I missed my shot…

‘Down In It’ was another highlight for me. I heard it again at Bowery, but for some reason on that evening it sounded ‘rap-ier’ and fit the venue better. Plus I now know that he changes the lyrics to ‘I looked him right in the eye and Waved Goodbye‘, and I was able to wave at exactly that point.

Standing in front of the speakers allowed me to hear every single detail. When Robin would play the slide guitar, I could hear him set down the metal piece he wears on his finger at the end. It was also eerily quiet during most of the instrumentals- quiet in a super small space like this is different than arena quiet, which is never really that quiet.

Twice, a woman went crowd surfing in what looked like a wedding dress, bowing to the band when she came over. What a riot. Another crazy girl tried to sneak up in front of the barrier to potentially jump on stage, but her plans were thwarted. And yet another crazy crowdsurfer girl tripped over every single piece of the rail on her way out, bloopers style.

‘Metal’ and ‘I Die: You Die’ with Gary Numan was cool, even if it wasn’t a surprise. I have mixed feelings about the special guest thing. I think it’s a really cool thing when it’s truly a surprise, like the time I saw James Hetfield come out and sing ‘Rooster’ with Alice in Chains. Otherwise it kind of messes with the flow of the set. Numan is a funny little performer. I thought his NIN shirt was a nice touch.

For the encore, Trent launched into a song that got messed up…which I found out later would have been ‘Atmosphere’. It’s a shame he killed it- that would have been the one new one for me to hear. It was kind of funny to hear him go off about that not being the way to start an encore, and then turn around and kick the keyboard. It was the closest I’d ever seen NIN get to a fluid setlist as they chatted for a second and I could see Trent say ‘Dead Souls’. I’ve lucked out and seen this song a lot, but I know its special for many people. There were almost five cover songs in that setlist.

‘Hurt’ got me again at the end. This time, it had less to do with the moment and more to do with my personal state of mind. This week took a lot from me, and ‘Hurt’ was when it all hit. So, there I was, crying quietly at what was to be my last rail spot at a NIN show.

JMJ came around to wave…I never even saw Ilan through the whole show. I turned around and looked to see a lot of sad faces and drenched people. You could tell it was a lot of people’s last show, and emotions were high.

I knew that this Echoplex show could not meet all of the expectations bestowed upon it. It was by no means a bad show, but something about it felt wrong. It was not the bands fault; it was my own. I think that I personally couldn’t let go of thinking about everyone who wanted to be at this show, the stress of changing travel and not being able to go to the Henry Fonda show, plus some other personal stuff.

But, now I think I’ve got my head on straight and have all of that out of my system for the final show at the Wiltern.

Speaking of the final show….what will happen??? Will there be a mass orgy inside? A mass suicide after? Will Trent let us all hug him at the end? Will they play Pretty Hate Machine and Broken front to back, and then play every song they’ve never played? Will they play naked? Will I attend naked? Will I crowdsurf for the first and last time? One of these things is more likely than the others.

So I thought it’d be all over after Echoplex. This whole final tour thing has been like a break up- I keep thinking it’s over and NIN still finds its way back on my calendar. So Thursday night, I’ll have ex-sex with NIN one last time.

Setlist (from nin.com) And yes, no Echoplex at The Echoplex.

“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” (Featuring Gary Numan)
“I Die: You Die” (Featuring Gary Numan)
“Physical”
“The Hand That Feeds”
“Head Like A Hole”
Encore
“Dead Souls”
“Hurt”

*I accidentally left my wristband in my hotel room, and I called and they dug it up and are mailing it to me. Another reason to love the Sunset Marquis.

My other NIN entries.

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