Nine Inch Nails (March 26, 2006)

Andy called me yesterday to tell me that he had an extra (and more importantly free) ticket to see Nine Inch Nails last night at the Oklahoma City Ford Center. So after work, the two of us hooked up and headed downtown.

Andys girlfriend Lea (who does part time radio work and is friends with several people who work at the KATT) told Andy that the KATT would be broadcasting before the concert from the Courtyard Marriott across the street from the Ford Center, so after parking underground we headed over to the Courtyard to hang out for a bit before the show. Andy introduced me to a couple of the KATT DJs and we spent about half an hour hanging around and talking to Paisley and Tony Z. Paisley even had someone take a picture of all four of us together for the KATTs website. After that, Tony Z asked Andy and I if we wanted to cut some promos for the KATTs Dirty Thirty birthday party, so we both recorded little sound bites with our names and where we were from, wishing the KATT a happy dirty 30th birthday. So now we are all BEST FRIENDS FOREVER K WRITE BACK HOLLA PLAYA? Just kidding. But it was pretty fun.

Apparently we spent too much time hanging out in the Marriott because by the time we went outside the line to get into the Ford Center wrapped around a couple of times and took up most of the city block. When the doors finally opened the line moved slowly but steadily. Every person entering had to empty their pockets and be patted down from head to toe by security guards. Times have changed.

The Ford Center is notorious for having small seats (think airplane), so we were less than thrilled to see the enormous guy sitting in the seat next to mine. The guy filled his entire seat and half of mine, which was bad news for me since I fill every square inch of the seats there and Andys not exactly tiny himself. Things got better once the concert started and everyone stood up, but until then I was physically wedged up against two peoples shoulders.

The shows opener was Saul Williams. Apparently Saul Williams has two gigs; slam poetry readings, and live concerts in which he performs slam poetry readings over music. Most of Williams lyrics dealt with his urban struggles growing up black. Unfortunately, his audience was 15,000 white kids, all there to see Nine Inch Nails. As a performer, Williams stage show was largely unimpressive. Both Williams and his DJ were animated throughout the performance but there were no set pieces and no light show to speak of (other than blindingly bright strobe lights). Sauls vocal diatribes are probably very powerful in small venues, but lose something in a large arena setting.

After Williams left the stage, thick screens (I dubbed them mosquito nets) dropped down from the ceiling, blocking view of the stage. The cube was pumped full of smoke, the lights were dimmed, and Nine Inch Nails took the stage.

Despite being deeply rooted in electronic and industrial genres, there is no doubt that Nine Inch Nails puts on a hell of a rock and roll show. Trent Reznors touring band (which rotates members every tour) included bassist Jeordie White (A Perfect Circle/Marilyn Manson), drummer Josh Freese (A Perfect Circle/Devo/Studio musician) and guitarist Aaron North, who covered every inch of the stage throughout the show while throwing guitar stands, kicking over amplifiers, and even stage diving (with guitar in hand) during the middle of a song.

Of course, Nine Inch Nails IS Trent Reznor, and he did not disappoint fans. Whether standing in the middle of an intricate light show or standing onstage alone lit by a lone spotlight, Reznor both commanded the crowds attention and spent time hiding from them in the shadows as well.

The only downfall to the show was the mid-concert pacing. Halfway through the night, the mosquito-nets were once again lowered and turned into makeshift movie projection screens. Movie clips of monkeys fighting and George Bush ballroom dancing were projected onto the screens, all but completely blocking any view of the band. It was a neat effect for one song, but by the end of the third song the crowd began growing restless and I saw lots of people sitting down. The lull continued as Trent and company worked their way through some of the bands slower material. Its good to see some traditions never change the stadium was a sea of lit lighters.

Overall, the show was great (especially for the price!). Its been a long time since Ive been to an arena-type concert, so if nothing else it was nice to get in touch with how out of touch I am. ;)

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