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My NIN Weekend: Nine Inch Nails, The Bug @ Arco Arena/Sacramento and Planet Hollywood/Las Vegas, 12/12-13/08

December 17, 2008

It is with great pleasure that I spent some of my final concert experiences of the year with NIN. Though the 48 hour period following them on the last two dates for Lights in the Sky in Sacramento and Las Vegas was rather grueling, it somehow made my year feel complete. Seeing the first and last show of the tour brought everything into perspective.

The Warning

These two shows were really for the fans- we came out in droves as many were afraid this would be it. Thus, this review is for the fans. If you want more of a traditional show review, check out the one of these entries from my first 3 shows of the tour.

You Know What You Are?

You might be a hardcore NIN fan if:
-you make NINtags for fellow nin.com fans you will be spending time with in line
-you bake NIN cookies
-you spend 17 hours in line for 5 hours of showtime


That would be….me (and quite a few others).

Head Down

Drive to Sacramento, pick up fellow nin.comer on the way. Park illegally near the venue as we weren’t allowed to park in the lot until 6pm. Pick up another nin.comer on the way home to SF, arriving at 1AM. Flight to Vegas at 8AM.



I wished to be on the center rail just once. Apparently I will never get there early enough- life/work always gets in the way.

Center rail arrival time for Sac- 6AM
Center rail arrival time for Vegas- 10PM the previous night

My arrival time for Sac- Noon
My arrival time for Vegas- 10AM

Day late, dollar short. Grrr….

We’re in This Together

When you are in line with people for a long time, you get to know each other quite well, on a NIN level. And then your fandom is subconsciously ranked by everyone around you based on a point system based on the number or shows you’ve been too, what NIN era said shows belong in, how often you post on nin.com, the number of people who aren’t present that you hold spots* for in line, the amount of insider knowledge you have about the current location and activity of TR and company, etc.

*+1 is ok. Anything else can kiss my ass.


In Sacramento, we froze our asses off for 7 hours before going inside. We made trips to the bathroom to try to warm up. I couldn’t stop shaking for an hour after getting inside. Being tense from the cold made me more sore than the actual show.

In Vegas, we had to stand in the line for 10 hours. At least it was around a bar called Halo, where we were intermitently shown an ad on a screen for the show containing Closer video and live footage. And it was inside from the cold- which was a total relief.


I don’t think anyone in either the Sac or Vegas lines that I met were actually from either city. SF, LA, Boston, SoCal, Columbus…it was definitely a NIN pilgrimage.


There was super lax security in Sac, particularly because of the filming that was allowed.

In Vegas, I got picked on, and oddly enough it was not for my camera. After feeling the outside of my bag to determine I did not have a scud missile inside, the head security rushed over and told me that they were confiscating my studded bracelet. Notice I said studded, not spiked. Seriously? And they also threw away my banner that I spent a fair amount of time making. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to get a cloth banner to sneak it in like others. Boo.

And I never got my bracelet back- someone had stolen it from the box before I made it out of the venue.

March of the Pigs

After the long wait, the fun begins when Jen finds your tickets, and JT gives you the speech (walking is good, running is bad. The rail is not a comfortable place to be….) In Sac, JT was in a really good mood, thanking us for our support on nin.com, and even smiling and giving me a little wink. In Vegas, he gave the stern speech even though he knew all 40 of us GA ticket holders had heard it several times.

In Vegas, we got to hear and sort of sneak a peak at the end of the soundcheck. I thought that was pretty exciting.

The rail rush- not so much for either show. In Sac, I got pushed out to the right of Robin- the stage seemed tiny. For getting there at noon, I got a worse spot than when I’ve showed up at 2 or 3. Odd.

For Vegas, I decided to mix it up and stand in front of JMJ. I hadn’t experienced the show from this angle, and I’m glad I did it. Though I did miss Robin.

I’m Looking Forward to Joining You, Finally

Waiting in line has its moments, but it is mostly a drag. Once inside and at your spot, the anxiety melts into excitement. Just when I was questioning why the hell I was doing this, I remembered: front row at the best show evah.


I knew that GA at this Vegas show would be badass, but it was really mind blowing. The stage was low, and the barrier curved in where I was, making me super close to the stage. I almost felt like I was invading JMJ’s space. And then turning around and seeing all of those seats…

Where is Everybody?

In Sac, the top level was covered in curtains because it didn’t sell.

In Vegas, the seats were practically empty for what seemed like a really long time. Were the NIN fans tardy from a Vegas hangover? I was getting worried, but then it started to fill up.

Starfuckers, Inc.

Seeing Ron Jeremy walk off the Vegas stage when the rail folks were first let in was hilarious. And to the girl who got her picture taken with him that didn’t turn out- sorry hun, but it’s probably a good thing.


Most NIN fans have not been very respectful of the opening bands on this tour. The Bug was different, yes, but they put on an energetic show with some danceable beats. I know we were doing some bootie shaking. No need to tell them to get the fuck off the stage, or yawn without covering your mouth.

Right Where It Belongs

Being at a NIN show is one of the few times in life when I can truly be in the moment. There’s never a second where your mind wanders, thinking about laundry or something. It’s such a communal experience to have everyone be so excited about the same thing, acting like kids on Christmas, dressing up, making things for each other. The show is the climax of a long journey we’ve all taken…

Screaming Slave

Sac had a lot of crowd surfers, but none of them came near me, and the crush only occurred once. Pretty tame, but still confined to my little space.

In Vegas, I was able to completely rock out- from the moment The Bug came on, to when TR walked off the stage after In This Twilight/Zero Sum. Roomy rails are fun.

Well, except for when this picture was taken by Rob during Hurt:


Rob and Co. were filming a lot in Sacramento. It was interesting to see- the camera’s they were holding up front were shaky for sure. Can’t wait to see what either the fans or the band end up coming up with.


In Sac, the security guard in front of me was being very good about keeping everyone hydrated. Unfortunately, that meant that he perched in front of me to pour water into everyone’s mouths, and it seemed to happen during every song. So, I got to stare at his crotch a lot. Yay me.

Robin and his guitar seems to be getting along much better at these shows than earlier this tour. Though I kinda missed the three tantrums I saw before…

The Vegas show starts, and I think something is obstructing my earplug. I can’t hear anything, and it is totally weird. I’m playing the songs inside my head, I can hear Trent’s actual voice and not the speakers. It seemed like JMJ wasn’t even playing. I look up and realize the speakers are behind us. Boo again.

Somewhat Damaged

To be brutally honest and speak from my reviewer’s perspective rather than my NIN fangirl one, both shows failed to live up to my expectations. Keep in mind that NIN on their worst day is eons better than 97% of bands.

The boys are tired. They’ve been on the road for six months, dealing with demanding fans and a technologically difficult stage production. They’ve had poor ticket sales with the bad economy.

Trent’s voice is fried. At times, he looks very present, but at other times, I can feel that he’s working. The passion was flickering on the stage both nights, which made me sad.

Meet Your Master



The Frail into The Wretched. We had our fingers crossed and were chanting for this. It was the one and only time I got to hear it on the tour.

Seeing that JMJ had taken up some ferocious headbanging.


Destruction/anger during MotP. The guys moved around a lot and shook up the equipment. This seemed to be a proper performance of the song, where in Sac I felt a little weird hearing it after the Guantanamo Bay incident. I thought it might be cut from the set.

Reptile’s usual orgasmic qualities- I was torn as to whether I wanted to film this or not, and I’m really glad I decided to film the first half and rock out for the second. It will be my NINporn for awhile.


These were the last shows of the tour, and what I thought might be my last NIN shows for a long time. Vegas was Josh Freese’s last show, and to my surprise, Alessandro Cortini’s last as well.

TR’s speech in Sac was short, thanking us for our support. In Vegas, we were informed of the departures, and that the set may be installed in TR’s house so that he can watch porn (Ron Jeremy?). We were also told that NIN would continue as a 4 piece, and that there would be new shows in April, in the U.S. and Europe. This probably got the biggest crowd reaction of the entire evening.


I was a victim of high expectations for this Sin City show. A guest appearance, some new songs…something ‘extra special’. It was a great show and I had a beyond belief spot, but apparently I wanted more. I cursed myself for not going to that HoB show.

I got really wrapped up in the nin.com banter for expectations, and started to be one of those selfish, demanding fans. Shame on me.


How ironic is it that I didn’t have one injury at either show until the very very end of the Vegas set? I was trying the get a setlist that a roadie pulled off and said was Sacramento, shouting, “I was at that one!”, when some people pushed me over and I smashed my left hand digits in the rail. Screw you guys. I may lose my ring fingernail. Also ironic.


Neither show was the best on the tour for me. Seattle for the surprise or Inglewood for the energy would be my favorites. However, the Vegas experience was very unique and special.

The Big Come Down

Post-NIN depression sux. Anyone want to sponsor a trip to New Zealand for me?

Adrift and At Peace

The post-NIN debrief: After a tour, certain songs take on new meaning for me. 1,000,000 has increased it’s appeal to me since it signals the beginning of the show. In This Twilight is now more bittersweet. Ghosts 19 and 28 have now become recognizable by number. Through the tour, I’ve met new friends, learned more about the band, and fueled my NIN addiction. The countdown begins….three months and two weeks until April….

Sacramento Setlist:
Letting You
March of the Pigs
Head Down
The Frail
The Wretched
Gave Up
The Warning
21 Ghosts III
28 Ghosts III
19 Ghosts III
The Greater Good
Terrible Lie
The Big Come Down
31 Ghosts IV
The Hand That Feeds

Head Like a Hole

The Good Soldier
God Given
In This Twilight/Zero-Sum piano outro

Las Vegas Setlist:

Letting You
March of the Pigs
Head Down
The Frail
Gave Up
The Warning
The Great Destroyer
Ghosts 21
Ghosts 28
Ghosts 19
Ghosts Piggy
The Greater Good
Terrible Lie
The Big Come Down
Ghosts 31
The Hand that Feeds
Head Like a Hole

The Good Soldier
In This Twilight


In This Twilight/Sacramento:

The Frail/Closer/Las Vegas:

Only/Las Vegas (my favorite visuals because it works for us up close):

The Hand That Feeds/Las Vegas:

Reptile/Las Vegas:






  1. Nice Review! We were standing almost exactly opposite on the rail as you, in front of Robin. I loved how close the barrier curved! It was nice meeting you guys in line!!

  2. I love that JMJ has picks inspired by the NIN logo. That’s awesome. (I’m seriously considering NZ too, it’ll be warmer than New England in February, right?)

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