Everything goes in waves and it definitely took awhile for my next set to come in with regards to concerts. Eight months had passed since I had been to a proper concert (Street Scene) so this finally broke my dry spell. That is not all that broke as I had broken it off with Donna some months earlier and had starting dating a gal named Nikki. She had good taste in music so I made the drive to Irvine with her and 2 of her friends to see the cleverly named NINJA tour.
I had only seen Jane’s Addiction’s one other time back at Lollapalloza 2003 when they were newly reunited promoting their new album Strays, which was the only other album in their catalog besides the classic/excellent albums Nothing’s Shocking and Ritual de lo habitual. They seemed like an odd pairing with Nine Inch Nails but they were in their element and put on a good show.
SETLIST: “Three Days,” “Whores,” “Ain’t No Right,” “Pigs in Zen,” “Then She Did…,” “Mountain Song,” “Had a Dad,” “Been Caught Stealing,” “Ted, Just Admit It…,” “Ocean Size,” “Summertime Rolls,” “Stop!,” “Jane Says”
I had not seen since Nine Inch Nails since they were promoting With Teeth back in November of 2005. The Slip that was released a year before this was still their newest album. Following Radiohead’s lead the album was released digitally on the Nine Inch Nails official website for free under a Creative Commons license with a message from Trent that read “this one’s on me.” NIN is a live force to be reckoned with but I peaked too early by seeing them at the Gorge for my very first time. It was nice to see them outdoors again but Irvine’s amphitheater is just a cookie cutter amphitheater with nothing special about it. I quite enjoyed seeing “Echoplex” live but was most happy to see Robin Finck aka “Lizard Man” back in the lineup.
SETLIST: “Now I’m Nothing,” “Terrible Lie,” “1,000,000,” “Heresy,” “March of the Pigs,” “Metal,” “Reptile,” “The Becoming,” “Survivalism,” “Mr. Self Destruct,” “The Fragile,” “Gone, Still,” “The Way Out is Through,” “Wish,” “Echoplex,” “The Day the World Went Away,” “The Hand That Feeds,” “Head Like a Hole”
There I was standing on the floor of the packed arena at San Diego State University watching Queens of the Stone Age for the first time. They were touring for the album Lullabies to Paralyze that had come out in March. I had come alone, which by this point was nothing new, because I couldn’t recruit any of my friends to come to the show with me. Shortly after the band started to play “Feel Good Hit of the Summer” I was lucky enough to meet two generous stoners who didn’t mind sharing their joint with me. I say lucky because this was a rare occasion where I didn’t just sneak in my own. Not that I “had” to have one, but it always enhanced my experience. The beauty of this concert was not only that I got to see Queens of the Stone Age for the first time, but the fact that they were opening for Nine Inch Nails. This was to be the second time I had the pleasure of seeing them. Towards the end of the interim between bands camera flashes started going off in anticipation of Trent Reznor and the rest of his band hitting the stage. This is when it finally hit me. I had always wanted to write a book but had never quite figured out what I wanted to write about. When I was younger I never really took that many pictures but the camera flashes got me thinking about how other people document their life through the pictures they take. It is said that a photograph is worth a thousand words. With that in mind someone can look at one of their photographs and tell you exactly where they were, who they were with, and all the circumstances surrounding that moment in time. When I started thinking about this it dawned on me that I document my life in the same manner through my concert ticket stubs because I’ve kept one from each concert I have ever been to. I can look at the stub and tell you the exact date, who attended the concert with me, where I worked at the time, who I was dating, etc. That is what spawned this blog (originally intended as a book).
This concert was special because it was a “2 for the price of 1.” Let me explain. By this point the internet had taken over the ticket world and more specifically the legal ticket scalping world. Basically even if you logged on to Ticketmaster, etc. right when the tickets first went on sale you would still end up getting really crappy seats that were expensive because the legal scalpers had figured out a way to suck up all the good tickets that were not already given out to radio stations, etc. I say this because I had pretty much all but given up on buying tickets the traditional way and instead tried to buy tickets off of people looking to get rid of them at the last minute. This was one of those times but I ended up buying it for way less than face value (I want to say $20) from a legal scalper. He said that they just bought too many and now were trying to unload them for something.
Nine Inch Nails was touring for With Teeth that had come out in May and this was the first night of the tour. They came out behind what looked like a giant mesh screen that images were projected onto and they proceeded to take us on a thorough musical journey. Jeordie White (better known as Twiggy from Marilyn Manson) was in this incarnation of the Nine Inch Nails touring band. So they played what seemed like a full set but all of a sudden they stopped playing and disappeared for quite awhile. Nobody knew what the hell was going on until Trent came out and apologized to the crowd saying they had an unexpected emergency and would be coming back to make it up at a later date. It turns out what happened is they had to cut their set short because the drummer Jerome Dillon had a heart-related health issue that caused him to be rushed to the hospital. They ended up coming back on November 20th to play the “make up date” which was just fine with me.
This concert ranks as my #2 favorite concert of all time right behind Tool at the Gorge. It was a similar set of circumstances in many ways. The three words that come to mind are intense, spiritual, and surreal. Lucinda and I made the approximately 4 hour drive to meet up with Jason, Ross, and Joe. We were armed to the teeth with LSD and ready for the time of our life. This was to be the first time any of us had seen Nine Inch Nails, the first time Lucinda had been to the Gorge and the first time she had taken LSD. To top it off A Perfect Circle was the opener. They had just released Mer de Noms a few weeks prior to this show and by the time of the show we were already in love with the album. I remember laughing hysterically on the hill with Lucinda before either band came because the acid was starting to take hold. It was creeping up on us progressively the whole time A Pefect Circle was on stage. They played almost every song on the first album. Maynard was clad in a long dark wig and commented that it was “a nice day for a picnic” as the sun set behind them with the beautiful backdrop of the gorge. During the breakdown in “Magdalena” he began to spin around in a circle faster and faster as the musical landscape intensified. Then came time for Nine Inch Nails. They were touring for their double album The Fragile which had come out the previous September. Their show was just absolutely amazing and not just because I was on acid. They had these 3 giant screens that moved about, accentuating every little thing. The band reminded me of army ants onstage because there were times when the band was moving around the stage as frantically as the music was fierce. The guitarist Robin Finck was aptly nicknamed “Lizard Man” by my friends from this point on because of his costume and general stage presence. I swear he was shaking guitar notes out of his leg. Incredible. There is a wonderful DVD out called “And All That Could Have Been” that documents the entire tour, with snippets from this actual concert. It is a great reminder for me of one of the best nights of my life and will give all those not in attendance a little glimpse of what they missed out on.