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We've got a guest contribution today, dear readers! WTC's own Ghost of Beloved Pets Past, Tragic Maise, writes in with a review of the NIN-stravaganza last week in Champaign, IL!

He Didn’t Even Eat the Salmon Mousse! 
NIN at Assembly Hall, Champaign, IL 2/10/06

Review and shitty camera phone pictures
by Maise

Oh, Trent, if you had stopped by Rosemont one more time, you, me, my husband, and the band could all have been kicking it at the Chili’s across the street from the Allstate Arena, eating boneless chicken wings and quesadillas.  But no, no.  This is the With_Great_Inconvenience tour 2006, so the husband and I made a 2.5-hour road trip to see the first show at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.  Driving through central Illinois in February is not unlike a Buddhist exercise.   Flat land, no trees, not even any cornstalks in the field.  Emptiness and nothingness.  Om.  But spending time in Champaign-Urbana gave me a chance to reflect on all the ways that my university was, like, a thousand times better.

Oh, and in a show of continued commitment to our relationship, my husband and I signed a new two-year cell phone contract and upgraded our phones, so I was finally able to live my dream of taking really shitty, Rorschach-like pictures at a concert.  With some luck, I’ll be able to attach them here.

Assembly Hall:

This arena kind of reminds me of the mothership in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, especially when all lit up.  Fortunately for us, it’s not a particularly tall arena, so what I feared were “nosebleed” seats really weren’t so high up that I couldn’t see the stage.  Also, they only used about half or less of the available seating, which made the venue feel much more intimate than your typical Big Ten basketball stadium.  They only have bathrooms on the lower level, though, which sucks beyond belief.

The Opening Band:

Unlike some audiences who will be enjoying Saul Williams, we experienced the musical stylings of Moving Units.  They appear to specialize in playing fast-tempo songs in a really lethargic manner.  Kind of like the Strokes or Franz Ferdinand with zero charisma or stage presence.  But they weren’t painful to listen to either; perhaps they would be better served on a smaller stage.  Towards the end of the show, the lead singer apologized for the quality of his voice, explaining that he was sick.  Said my husband, “That’s a pretty poor excuse for sucking.”  You’ll have to excuse him for a lack of sympathy—he’s a cop.

Is this some sort of UFO sighting?  Nope, it’s the Moving Units on stage, from our vantage point.

The Band:

Jeordie White - Yeah, he was there.

Aaron North - With all of his roundhouse kicks or whatever he’s doing up there while wearing his “action jeans,” I have determined that he is the Chuck Norris of rock.  Every now and then, Trent would ram into him or perhaps smack him upside the head.  Christ, wouldn’t we all love to do that?  Still, no complaints about his performance.

Josh Freese - A HUGE improvement over Alex Carapetis.

Alessandro Cortini - Povero Alessandro!  Practically stuck backstage while running the International Space Station or nuclear submarines or whatever you’re doing with all those buttons and switches.  Are you pushed so far at the back of the stage because you’re so pretty?  I totally sympathize.  When I was in high school drama, I went from my 15 minutes of fame as “Patty” in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown to a member of the so-called “Backstage Chorus” in Godspell.  God, it was so humiliating!  We were kept backstage for most of the show to sing back-up, but every now and then, they’d trot us out for the big numbers, like “Day by Day,” during which we had to kneel at the front of the stage and sing while doing sign language.  That was when I reached my personal nadir in terms of coolness.  So, Alessandro, I totally feel you.

Trent Reznor - Compared to the Chicago show of 10/07, when he apparently was exhausted with last-minute rehearsals, he was a lot more rested and energetic.  He seemed to be in a really jovial mood.  **Drool warning** Even though I was probably about a mile away from him, I could still see the sharp definition of his biceps and bowling-ball-like shoulders.   And no one in the history of rock has made tambourine-playing sexier (during “With Teeth” and “Every Day is Exactly the Same,” as I recall)... not even Davy Jones.

I swear to God, you can kind of see him in this picture.  In the middle…see?  There are his arms.

The Performance:

As compared to the Chicago show, I would say that there were a lot of improvements.  The show lasted a full two hours, and the band spent a lot less time behind the gauzy curtain.  Because, you know, if you spend too much time behind a curtain, you turn into the Gorillaz. I’m just saying.

There were a lot of surprises in the setlist, which you can probably find on ETS in a much accurate form than I could construct.  I was worried that the general strategy for this leg of the tour was going to be “Well, it’s all new to you hicks, so here’s our well-oiled routine.”  I felt that opening the show with “Mr. Self Destruct,” was a refreshing surprise.  Other “OMFG, I can’t believe I’m hearing this live” moments included “The Big Comedown” and “Please.”  Thank God he revisited “Sin” and “Gave Up,” as those songs have been particularly meaningful to me as of late.  I was also happy to hear “With Teeth” just because I strongly believe that one should play the titular song of the tour. 

At first I thought that Trent had this rule that he could only say the words “thank you” within the borders of Illinois.  However, in the middle of the show, he became downright chatty.  I paraphrased the following from memory, so apologies for any misquotes:

“I want to sincerely thank you for coming out tonight.  This is the first show of our new tour, and how long has it been—six weeks? Two months?  Anyway, the first few shows are always a little weird.  We’ve been recording songs for a new album…” [at this point the crowd erupts] “You haven’t heard it yet, so don’t yell.  It’s weird to be around people after being in that mindset.  So that feels a little funny, and then during “Eraser”, I started feeling funny.  So I puked up a piece of salmon, and I didn’t even eat salmon. I haven’t had salmon for a month.”

Awww…Trent.  I don’t know about you, but I find barfing to be extremely traumatic, and I’m so proud of him for being a trooper.  He didn’t miss a note while regurgitating.  If it were me, I would have made the following announcement: “Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen.  I just totally barfed, so I’m afraid I have to stop the show immediately, lie down, and watch Lord of the Rings on DVD.  But that’s why Trent is a god of RAWK, and I am not.  I truly hope that he felt better after that because nothing is worse than having to travel with nausea.  It brings back memories of suffering a migraine on a train from Pompeii to Rome and puking up some gelato in the teeny-tiny bathroom.  Horrific.

Oh, and they’re still closing the show with “Head Like a Hole.”  So for future concert-goers, this song is your signal that Trent has finished aurally fucking you and that it’s time for you to put on your clothes and leave.  I promise you that you will not leave dissatisfied.  One of my most joyous concert experiences ever.  I think it helps that my personal life didn’t collapse immediately before this show.

And at this point in the show, Alessandro must have pressed the wrong button or flipped the wrong switch because an enormous burst of radiation vaporized everyone on stage.  It was so unbelievably tragic.

In Conclusion...

C and Gabriel be damned, I do love you, Trent.  [heavy sigh] No, not in the same way that I love my husband.  I have willingly gone to hell and back for the spouse, and I doubtlessly will have to do so again in the future.  But Trent has provided me with the soundtrack to my Orphic journey and has unwittingly kept me sane through some really heavy shit.  And that really means a lot to me.  Unless Trent is really into haikus, I don’t think that there is ever a way I could repay him for that, so I’ll just take this opportunity to say…thanks.  It was a fantastic show.  It was even worth leaving the Chicagoland metropolitan area.

Posted by Dierdre ~ in live_inch_nails, wtc_guest_contributions | Permalink


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Those pictures are kickass, Maise.

Posted by: Jane | Feb 14, 2006 6:16:34 AM

“no one in the history of rock has made tambourine-playing sexier”

That’s true! When they came to Brazil, they played “With Teeth”, and it was completely amazing!!!

“Mr. Self Destruct” on the setlist????? Oh my shit!!! I really hope NIN come back to Brazil this year!!!

Hahahah! Good pics! Almost better than mine

Posted by: Júlia | Feb 14, 2006 6:32:14 AM

A million thanks for putting that up, Dierdre!!!

Posted by: maise | Feb 14, 2006 7:02:49 AM

maise, I'm so with you on that Lord of the Rings on DVD business. Sick day succor, that shit. Whenever I'm feeling low, I just watch the lighting of the beacons. Thanks for the awesome review!

Posted by: Baal Glyttr | Feb 14, 2006 7:08:35 AM

Oh, and please excuse any minor typos. I wrote this up after about 10,000 glasses of sangria.

Posted by: maise | Feb 14, 2006 7:57:19 AM

Maise! Thanks for writing such an awesome review of the show! It got me excited cuz i'll be seeing Trent on 2/27 at UMass Amherst. Hopefully i'll have some pics and maybe even some video of the show courtesy of my camera phone ;o)

Posted by: Kimberly | Feb 14, 2006 9:36:35 AM

That's awesome Maise. Haha. I ony hope they play the same songs you mentioned, because I know I'll die of happiness if they do. God... another month. I don't know if I can last that long. I'll try my hardest to sneak in my digicam so I can get some vid (even though the mic on that thing is really fucking sensitive) and pictures. Since I'm gonna be seated, I'm not gonna be getting thrashed around by moshers, haha.

Posted by: Kim | Feb 14, 2006 9:58:22 AM

Thanks so much for this. I just got the OK from my boss to take the night of the Toledo show off (a week from today *hyperventilates*). I'm so glad that missing a day's worth of pay will be worth the time and gas spent. Not to mention that I'll probably skip a class.

From what you've mentioned of the setlist, I cannot fucking wait. "Please"? "Mr. Self Destruct" as the opener? Happy Valentine's Day to me.

In short, you rock, bitch.

Posted by: emerald527 | Feb 14, 2006 10:23:29 AM

"I was finally able to live my dream of taking really shitty, Rorschach-like pictures at a concert."


Thanks for sharing, maise. I really enjoyed reading about your concert experience. (I'm not kidding! I swear!)

Posted by: C | Feb 14, 2006 1:41:57 PM

Why, thank you! I aim to please.

Posted by: maise | Feb 14, 2006 2:13:06 PM

Great recount, Maise! I quite enjoyed the pictures and the salmon. :)

With that said, does anyone want a recount of the Milwaukee and Moline shows? I attended them both.

Posted by: Rachel | Feb 14, 2006 3:03:05 PM

Excellant review Maise. You're so funny. It's helping me get through a painfully boring english class.

Salmon puke sounds seriously horrific.

Posted by: Nicole | Feb 14, 2006 4:45:43 PM

Rachel: Do share! This would be the place.

I plan to be at the Lexington, Cincinnati and Knoxville shows. If anything particularly awesome/insane happens, I'll try to take a picture or otherwise record it for posterity.

Posted by: C | Feb 14, 2006 5:24:51 PM

Yes, Rachel, please file a dispatch!

Posted by: maise | Feb 14, 2006 7:46:51 PM

"And at this point in the show, Alessandro must have pressed the wrong button or flipped the wrong switch because an enormous burst of radiation vaporized everyone on stage. It was so unbelievably tragic."

You fucking kill me Maise! I still can't quit laughing about this bit.

Only a 2 days til my show! I just hope that they add Mr. Self Destruct back to the set list. I couldn't help noticing that it got dropped at the Quad Cities show. Here is another good place to see sets played.

Posted by: | Feb 14, 2006 7:52:46 PM

Alright, Ladies, I shall deliver a play-by-interesting-play tomorrow. There were certainly alot of strange things that happened. :)

Posted by: Rachel | Feb 14, 2006 8:58:19 PM


Posted by: Dierdre | Feb 14, 2006 9:06:13 PM

I am LOVING Trent's big meaty leg in this picture. Goddamn.

Posted by: Dierdre | Feb 14, 2006 9:22:34 PM

Speaking of white dress shirts, my husband and I discovered last weekend that the frat boy uniform has evolved. Back when I was in college, they were all about the flannel shirts and the baseball hats with brims sharpened to a dangerous points. Now apparently they wear untucked dress shirts with the first couple of buttons unbuttoned. We'd see groups of 12 guys walking around with that exact same look.

Trent looks hot in his white shirt, though. I love how even when he wears a long-sleeved shirt, he still somehow manages to show off the biceps.

Posted by: maise | Feb 15, 2006 7:07:05 AM

Girls, I have to agree with you. Seems that doesn't matter what Trent wear, he'll always look hot!! And one more thing: he's with so big muscles, that no matter if he wear long sleeve cause it always appears anyway.

Yeah, I'm sure he has a big ego! (more than ever now)

Posted by: Júlia | Feb 15, 2006 9:09:57 AM

Holy shit, I'm bored today.

More issues of graphic design:

How do we feel about the new front page(s) on nin.com? I think I like it better, especially if it gets updated frequently, but now it doesn't fit in very well with the rest of the site...it would suck to have to do a complete overhaul of the site, though.

Posted by: maise | Feb 15, 2006 11:44:13 AM

It reminds me of Jerome Dylan's site - you know, all his polaroids of electrical wires.

I'm not wild about it. It's too... LITERAL, or something. I'd like to see something less representative, and more evocative.

Posted by: Jane | Feb 15, 2006 12:25:08 PM

The Empire of Dirt is a parking lot.

Time to move on.

Posted by: Gabriel | Feb 15, 2006 12:46:33 PM

I can see how it could be seen as too literal, but I kind of welcome some actual representation. I'm a little fatigued with streakiness, blurriness, vagueness, and the whole logo looking as though it has electrical wires attached to it.

Now that I'm flipping through various pages on the site, it strikes me that it's all over the place. The only thing connecting this to this is the streakiness and wire-looking things. Granted, I suck at all things visual (just check out my award-winning photography!!!), but I do have an eye for consistency, as it's how I make a living.

Meanwhile, Gabriel is remarkably consistent in pissiness. I have to give him points for that.

Posted by: maise | Feb 15, 2006 1:27:50 PM

By the way, Maise, this:

And at this point in the show, Alessandro must have pressed the wrong button or flipped the wrong switch because an enormous burst of radiation vaporized everyone on stage. It was so unbelievably tragic.

is the best fucking caption ever written.

Posted by: Kim | Feb 16, 2006 9:57:40 AM

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