Nine Inch Nails @ The Bowery Ballroom (8/22/09)

Kevin Keating

Yeah, I know this concert wasn't a Bay Area show, but if you're a frequent visitor, you'll know that I'm a big fan of Nine Inch Nails. Luckily for me, this show at New York City's Bowery Ballroom coincided with a trip I had already planned back to Philadelphia -- which is only a 2 hour drive from NYC. Plus, I was one of the lucky few to be able to get a pair of tickets to this venue which only holds approx 500 people. The Bowery Ballroom was even smaller than the Cabazon Key Club in Morongo, CA which was previously the smallest venue that I've been able to see NIN.

The Bowery Ballroom show was the first show on the current, and supposedly last leg of the 'Wave Goodbye' tour. Trent Reznor, the main artist behind NIN, has openly said that this will be the last set of shows indefinitely. Who knows how long he'll stay away from touring, but there wasn't anyway I was going to miss this tiny club show in NYC.

Friends told me that I was crazy for going to the show. You see, the main reason I was back in Philly was to ride in a charity bike ride for the Lance Armstrong Foundation -- the Philadelphia Livestrong Challenge -- which was a 100-mile ride that started at 7.30am on Sunday morning. We were also told that due to the size of the event this year, we should plan on arriving at the start by 6am. So in a nutshell, I was assuming that the NIN show in NYC would end around midnight. With a two-hour drive back to Philly, that would give me a solid 3 hours of sleep before having to get on a bike to ride for approximately 6 hours.

But again, if you've read my previous NIN posts, you'll already know I'm a bit of a NIN-nut. Long story short, I wasn't going to miss NIN play at the Bowery and I wasn't going to drop out of the charity ride either.

I was luke-warm on catching the opening band, Health, so I opted to skip them in exchange for meeting up with an old friend who I hadn't seen in roughly 10 years and get some drinks. After a couple of hours of catching up, I headed over to the Bowery just about 15 minutes prior to NIN's set-time of 9.15pm. I camped out towards the right-rear section of the floor and waited patiently for the house lights to dim.

At just about 20 minutes after 9, Trent walked out to center stage as the house lights just started to dim and launched into 'Somewhat Damaged'. The rest of the setlist is below that I copy/pasted from the boards on Overall, the mix of songs was just fantastic. As an example, playing the bombastic "March of the Pigs" which was then followed by the beautifully quiet "Something I Can Never Have" which featured Justin Meldal-Johnsen on an upright string bass. Later in the show, they performed "Gave Up" (another heavy song) followed by "La Mer", again another very quiet and beautiful instrumental song. Each of the NIN albums over the past 20 years seemed to be equally represented. As you can see below, Trent even joked before "Down In It" that this song was one of the first to spawn the rock-rap genre 20 years ago as the first single off the first Nine Inch Nails album, Pretty Hate Machine.

The videos below hopefully not only capture the audio from the show, but the energy from the crowd which was just intense! All were shot from my Sony Cybershot DSC-W100 camera which has an annoying auto-focus feature which usually gets tripped up by the stage lights and my jerky holding of the camera. But the audio has always impressed me.

"Down In It" - The video gets sharper about midway into the song.

"Something I Can Never Have" - Again, the picture quality improves as the video goes on. This is such a powerful song as you can tell from what seems to be the entire crowd singing along with Trent. Definitely one of my favorites.

"Last" - again, one of my favorites and off a truly incredible album, Broken.

Next up, I'll be heading down to LA for their second-to-last show on tour at the Wiltern Theater. I'm also on the lookout for an extra ticket to the very last show at the Echoplex, so if you have one, I'd be glad to take it off your hands and buy you a few drinks!

Stay tuned for a review of the Wiltern show and hopefully another for the Echoplex!

Setlist from the Bowery Ballroom:

1.Somewhat Damaged
2.The Beginning Of The End
4.The Collector
6.March Of The Pigs
7.Something I Can Never Have
9.Meet Your Master
10.Banged And Blown Through
11. Burn
12. Gave Up
13. La Mer
14. Non-Entity
15. Gone, Still
16. The Downward Spiral
17. Wish
18. Heresy
19. Survivalism
20. Down In It
21. Hurt
22. The Hand That Feeds
23. Head Like a Hole

--- encore ---

24. Echoplex
25. The Good Soldier
26. Dead Souls
27. In This Twilight

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