The men of NIN invaded SF yesterday, posting not-so-cryptic photos of their down to earth meals and strolling around the streets of our beautiful city. Brandy Ho’s and Mel’s; not what I expected. But seriously, all of that posting pictures of my favorite band in my city made the anticipation for this show start a bit earlier than normal.
The Oakland presale line was quite a bit longer at 3pm than Seattle. And it was a cooker outside, too. Not a good thing for a bunch of pale people wearing black to sit in for several hours.
We were let in around 6:15p, and made a run for the barrier (ok, no running….but speedwalking). The opener, Deerhunter, came on around 7:30p.
I remember TR saying that he was a fan of Deerhunter a couple years ago, and I gave them a listen and thought I must have gotten the band mixed up. They are a very mellow breed of distortion rock, with songs that sound too similar to each other, and a pretty mellow stage presence. The only redeeming factor is a female guitarist who started rocking out towards the end. I’m still trying to understand the draw, because they just didn’t fit nor did they pump me up for NIN.
The other strange thing was the first couple songs that bellowed from the speakers between sets. Some old ’80s hip hop tracks. Mixed in with the Joy Division and LCD Soundsystem made it sound kinda out of place. But, for the most part, I love that they take the time to select the music that plays before and between sets- it’s heavy on all the great openers they’ve had in the past (Peaches, Autolux) and other really good stuff.
When the band hit the stage, I could tell there was a different vibe brewing than the nervous beginning I saw in Seattle. There was more confidence and intensity, mixed with the kind of relaxed that can only come with being exhausted from trying so hard for a tour that been going strong for a month and has several more to go. At the rail near Robin again, I felt like there was no other spot more perfect to be standing in. This was especially the case when, during March of the Pigs, Robin’s guitar messed up (again), and he got mad and had to leave, and then Trent got mad and decided to come stand right in front of me and sing in my face. All of that “I’ll never come earlier and try to get in the center rail” nonsense just melted away, along with the rest of the world, as he screamed “now doesn’t it make you feel better!” right in front of me. Yes, indeedy.
It was probably at about this point in time that a sizable earthquake hit our area. Unbeknownst to most of us who were rocking out, security would later tell us that some people actually ran out of the arena that felt it.
I came to realize that I was going to hear the exact same setlist I heard in Seattle. Kind of a bummer, I was really really really hoping for Reptile, or Down In It, since those have been played this tour. While the surprise of hearing The Frail go into Closer, or the new versions of Piggy and the new opening to Only was gone, the anticipation made up for it. The stage and the setlist are so incredibly dynamic, it just seems impossible at times that one band- one man- can pull together the raunchiness of Closer, the poetry if Hurt, and the instrumental prowess of the Ghosts tracks and make it work for an arena full of people.
The crowd was incredibly tame compared to any other NIN show that I’ve ever seen- though I’m not going to complain. Perhaps the sun took a lot out of us. I think I only saw 3 people pulled over the barrier. But there was a good cat fight next to me, and apparently another one post show in the parking lot. Chicks rule.
Yes, there were a few glitches here and there. A panel of light wasn’t working, and then I think TR broke one part when he threw some stuff around. He threw quite a bit of stuff around tonight. Perhaps Brandy Ho’s gave him a tummy ache.
I tried to watch JMJ to warm up to him this time, but I just couldn’t get there. Robin is still the sad man yogi guitarist, tossing water bottles to keep us hydrated. Freese is a machine. Ally looks like old Trent if he were Italian, but is too stuffed in a corner.
TR, despite throat problems that have canceled some shows this tour, sounds great. At first, I was worried because he used this voice mod device in The Warning that I didn’t remember in Seattle. But when it came time for Hurt and In This Twilight, there wasn’t an imperfection to be heard.
Damn, 2 hours goes by real fast. In the blur of my natural music high, the standouts were March of the Pigs, Wish, Terrible Lie, The Big Comedown, Echoplex, and In This Twilight. The old stuff never disappoints, and the new stuff really doesn’t either, it’s just a crowd dynamic thing as many still aren’t up to speed on TR’s new found prolific tendencies.
As I went to this show alone but was in the company of some great nin.com fellow fans, we waited outside the tour buses to try to get stuff signed. We saw TR get shuttled onto his bus without a glance or a wave. I have been trying to get my 1991 PHM CD booklet signed for a while. Oh well, I’ve got Inglewood tonight…
March of the Pigs
5 Ghosts I
17 Ghosts II
19 Ghosts III
The Greater Good
The Big Come Down
31 Ghosts IV
The Hand That Feeds
Head Like A Hole
In This Twilight
NIN performance: 9.75/10
Deerhunter performance: 7/10
venue (Oracle Arena): 7.5/10
value ($65/ticket): 9/10