story +pics / Mary Ritch
On Monday October 21 my cousin informed me that he had two “club seat” tickets to give away for the Nine Inch Nails concert. Of course I took them. I’ve wanted to go to see Trent Reznor and the gang perform live ever since I bought The Downward Spiral and Pretty Hate Machine tapes illegally through a friend’s older sibling when I was in the seventh grade.
After printing off the tickets, I started researching the new album during that week and reading new interviews with Trent Reznor. In reading them, I was afraid the concert wouldn’t be very nostalgic or as angsty as I needed it to be. Reznor is happily married now with two toddler-aged children after all.
When the day of the show rolled around, I met up with my friend and we drove to Atlanta. While walking towards the venue my fears started really flaring up when I saw someone selling concert merchandise outside the venue. The over-priced shirts with very simplistic designs screamed “providing a high-end lifestyle for a happy man and his children.” Then, I saw three Westboro-esq Crusaders for Christ with bibles reading scripture and praying for my salvation. I gathered they were praying for me, since I was going to be in the same room as the evil, gothic Trent Reznor in less-than-an-hour. In seeing them, all my fears and judgments were wiped away. I said something along the lines of, “thank god! This is so 90’s keep praying y’all. I love this so much,” to them and my friend Rachel agreed.
Inside, we found our seats and they were surprisingly awesome. I could see the outlines of people’s faces on stage because the view was so amazing and it was all for free. Next to me, was this hipster cool looking guy who was sitting by himself and since I talk to everyone, I asked him if he had been to a Nine Inch Nails concert before. He pulled out a bag and showed us the Pretty Hate Machine concert tee he just purchased and informed us that he was a big fan and flew down from New York for the evening to write an article for The Talkhouse. Since I didn’t know what The Talkhouse was I got him to write that on the back of my ticket so I could look for his article later in the week. While speaking with the random guy a little bit more, I found out he was Geoff Rickly the former leader singer of some emo band called Thursday my ex boyfriend listened to in college. I hate to admit this, but I had no clue who he was and only listened to his band when I was forced to in my ex boyfriend’s car.
But it was interesting to talk to him. Not only did he tell me he is in a band and nonchalantly mentioned that he met Dave Grohl on tour, but he also told us that he went to 30 Nine Inch Nails shows on the Downward Spiral tour and Trent Reznor spit gum in his hair in which fan girls proceeded to rip out clumps of his hair and he had to shave his head. I also found out, that the common misconception that all signed bands are rich is absurd. He informed me that he only made $10,000 one year when he was on tour. I mean, talk about starving artists. He made less than I did working for a newspaper. But, it was cool to sit next to someone like Geoff Rickly who knew a lot about music who enjoyed his job strictly because he enjoyed playing music. He seemed like he’s not one of those in it for the fame or fortune but because he loves writing and performing. Also, he gave me his email address to send him concert pictures since he informed us his phone wasn’t working….. (side note: I did the next day and he didn’t respond. #YouCantBeFriendsWithLeadSingersOfEmoBandsTheyHaveToBefriendYou)
That said, while he was talking to me I Googled Geoff just because I’m half cynical and didn’t want him to feel bad about my not knowing details of his band, Thursday. His Wikipedia page was pretty long to read so I skipped down to “personal life” and found out that he suffers from epilepsy. My first thought was “why the hell is this guy at a Nine Inch Nails concert? They are known for their crazy light shows. Dammit he’s going to get hurt and I am going to have to help him.” So during the performance I watched him out of my peripherals just to make sure he didn’t die next to me all by himself. He didn’t.
Trent Reznor and the gang put on a good show. For those of you, who are scared the new stuff isn’t loud enough, go to a show. It’s totally worth it. He’s as loud and ripped as ever. The band played a few songs off of the Pretty Hate Machine, Downward Spiral and The Fragile like “Piggy,” “March of the Pigs,” “The Wretched,” “The Fragile,” etc. and hearing those songs not only were nostalgic but certainly highlights of the evening. Most songs on Hesitation Marks were performed and the live renditions accompanied by the light show made me appreciate the new album live. It also got me to thinking that Trent Reznor has not only been through a lot so publicly he has come back from the shadows with a much needed empathy in order for him to share his happiness with others. Not only does NIN’s darker songs make me feel nostalgia but they also bring me back to a darker time myself. I gravitated towards his music at a time when I was suicidal and going through my own problems. But I’m not a masochist. I can reflect on that time because that period made me a better person. And the fact that Trent Reznor can go from recording an album in the Sharon Tate murder house to recovering from a horrible drug and alcohol addiction to selling out arenas after finding his happiness, is pretty fucking inspiring.
In figuring out via Geoff Rickly that some musicians are poor during the Nine Inch Nails show, I decided to share some music I’ve been enjoying for the last few months.
(1). White Lung- Glue or anything on their album gets me amped (this band sounds like a sped up version of Hole…during the Live through This years)
(2). Speedy Ortiz– Tiger Tank or Major Arcana (sounds influenced by Parliament and Tracy Bonham)
(3). Alt J– Fitzpleasure or Bloodflood
(4). Looshuss– Never Say Never (similar to Radiohead or Placebo).
(5). Thursday– Sparks against the Sun is my favorite but War All the Time (I just listened to them a couple of days ago considering I met their lead singer, I was kind of surprised by how influenced Rickly is by poets like Charles Bukowski (and I think the album War all the Time” is named after one of his books) but the only video that I watched was the one that I read that MTV banned because it was too close to 9-11 and everyone thought those damn devil musicians are being disrespectful to AMERICA when in reality it clearly is just an emo song about freedom.)
(6). Savages- Shut Up