Nine Inch Nails [NIN] @ Shoreline Amphitheater, Mountain View, CA - 5/22/09

For those of you who have read my older posts, you already know I'm a big fan of Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails. I've been a fan since I was 15 years old (and I'm in my 30's now), so I've lost track of the exact number of times I've seen them play live, but it's probably between 15-20 shows... Here's a few links to previous shows I've seen over the past couple of years: here, here and here.

Last night's show at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, CA has to rank up there as one of the best. Not only because of the setlist, but also because of the experience. When tickets went on sale a few months ago, I was able to score a pair of tickets in the 5th row from the stage and just about dead center, so the seats were going to be fantastic no matter what happened. Not only that, but the line-up of acts was stellar! On the bill was Tom Morello's new band, Street Sweeper Social Club, who opened the show. As an fyi, Tom Morello is the founding guitarist of Rage Against the Machine. Next up would be NIN, who were then followed by the re-united Jane's Addiction featuring the original line-up of Perry Farrell, Dave Navarro, Stephen Perkins and Eric Avery.

At least from my perspective, that's already a great evening! But a few days before the show, Trent posted a note from his Twitter account and then on the homepage of that there would be exciting VIP opportunities available for upcoming shows. Soon after, he announced a fundraising effort for a kid who needs a heart transplant and who doesn't have any health insurance. Without insurance, he's basically been told he's shit out of luck unless he can afford to pay for the operation on his own (costing hundreds of thousands of dollars). Long story short, Trent was offering to help out by giving fans the opportunity to donate towards the cause and rewarding those who do with a VIP package for the show of their choice. Not only could we get into the show early to listen to the soundcheck, but there'd be a meet-and-greet with the band, we'd be able to watch the show from the side of the stage, and basically hang out back stage with the band and other 'VIPs'. In my mind, this was going to be money very well spent.

The experience started at 4.30 where a crowd of about 300 people lined up outside the venue and were escorted inside to watch the NIN soundcheck start promptly at 5pm. The soundcheck consisted of:

I'm Afraid of Americans
The Good Soldier
Meet Your Master
Dead Souls

It was basically a mini, semi-private concert for approx 300 donors, and unbelievably cool.

Here's the video of "I'm Afraid of Americans":

Here's the video of "Dead Souls":

After the NIN soundcheck, Street Sweeper came out for their brief soundcheck as well. Check out Tom Morello warming up those fingers:

Next up was the meet and greet. With about 300 people who donated, the line took about 45 minutes to get through, and totally worth the wait. Because of the number of people who turned out, we were asked to keep it moving and only get one item signed by the band. I'd brought a poster that I've had since around 1991 that featured the original touring line-up of Nine Inch Nails (Trent, Richard Patrick, Chris Vrenna & Jeff Ward) plus an extremely rare compilation CD featuring local Cleveland-based musicians from around the mid-80's -- several years before the formation of Nine Inch Nails. On the CD is a song from Cool Down Daddy, one of the few bands Trent played keyboards on before creating Nine Inch Nails. Trent seemed a little surprised to see both! He wasn't even quite sure when the CD was made. Considering both items didn't have anything to do with the rest of the band, I had those guys sign my ticket stub, while Trent signed the poster.

After the signing, we were whisked away for dinner backstage which was actually pretty decent. I think I had a grilled chicken breast with caramelized onions and crumbled blue cheese, some wild rice with sweet potatoes and tofu and to top it off, some 'whitetrash potatoes' which were fantastic. I'm not sure what was in them, but they were definitely good!

So as we finished dinner, Street Sweeper Social Club hit the stage and played a relatively short set. Around 20-30 minutes from what I remember. And after a brief break, Trent and co. were ready to hit the stage.

I can only assume that this is a bit of a pre-show ritual?!?

After this bit, I headed back to my seats which were going to kick ass compared to watching the show from the back/side of the stage!

Here's some video from my seat:

And a couple of photos:

The setlist for the show included:

Terrible Lie
March of the Pigs
The Becoming
Gave Up
The Fragile
The Way Out is Through
The Day the World Went Away
The Hand That Feeds
Head Like a Hole

After NIN wrapped up, I headed back to the back of the stage and hung out with a few pretty cool people including some of the guys from the band!

Here's a shot of Robin Finck (NIN guitarist) and I:

Here's a shot of Justin Meldal-Johnsen (NIN bassist) and I:

Although Perry didn't hang out too long, I was able to snap this picture of him as he got ready to hit the stage:

And later on in the night, here's a shot of Mr. Navarro and I:

Overall, the Nails performance blew away their last show at the Oakland Arena last fall. The band seemed to be having more fun onstage, and they weren't constrained by the over abundance of visuals that were included in the last 'Lights In the Sky' tour. This was a stripped-down performance that gave the band more freedom to change up the set each night. And maybe the most important part of it all... Being a part of a fan community who has been able to raise over half a million dollars for Eric De La Cruz in under a week! That's just amazing!

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