Saturday, June 24, 2006

This is What it Feels Like

As I walked to Back Bay station to catch my train that would bring me to Rhode Island to meet up with Amanda, the sky opened up. It was gradual at first-- the rumble of thunder behind me, I hoped to make it to the station without needing my umbrella. Then I felt a drop. Then two. Then, a deluge. Tourists ran for cover by the BPL, and I sighed and took out my umbrella.

The rain continued as Amanda and I pulled into the Tweeter Center parking lot a few hours later. Amanda wanted to see Peaches and Bauhaus, so we got there at 5:30 to get a good seat on the lawn before the throngs we imagined would be there showed up. We sat in her Saturn, watching the tailgaters around us with envy.

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(Photos shamelessly stolen from Amanda. Mine are still on my phone.)

"We should have brought a six-pack," I moaned.

"At least," she said.

We talked about boys, both how much we still like them despite the fact all the ones we've known before have fucked us over. A group of guys were grilling in front of us, and after about half an hour, one of them came over.

"How you going to come to a concert and not tailgate?"

"We didn't bring any beer," I lamented.

"Well, come on ovah. We've got beahs and food."

We stood around the guy's gray truck, and met his friend, whose name escapes me, but I think was Jay. He looked at me with a mix of confusion, attraction, and drunkenness.

"So what do you do?"

"I work in college textbooks. Humanities textbooks."

"Okay, if you work in textbooks, can you tell me why it is that my book that's 300 pages long costs me $150?"

This is a question I'm used to fielding from people I've just met. Sometimes, I think it would be easier if I said I worked for the Gestapo or the IRS.

"Our books aren't that much. What's your major?"

"Nuclear engineering."

"That's why. Those books have to be updated a lot more than humanities books do."

"So where did you go to school?"



"Emerson. In Boston."

"What did you study there?"


"Oh. When did you graduate?"


"Oh wow. That makes you, what, like, thirty?"

"No. Twenty-four."

Chris, the guy who'd come over and invited us to tailgate, laughed. "Well, Jay's a baby anyway. How old are you, like, fifteen? Nineteen?"


"Oh man. You're as old as my baby brother," I said.

Amanda and I stood and had more awkward conversation, used the Portajohn and then headed in to get a spot for the show. Since the weather was shitty and there were two openers, we got a spot right along the fence that separates the unwashed masses in the lawn seats from the reserved seating. The first opener, Peaches, strutted around the stage in a black bra and boy shorts, with boots that came up to the middle of her thigh. Most of her schtick was to sing about fucking. Grabbing her boobs, singing about two guys fucking each other in front of her, and so on. While I appreciate the slutty Joan Jett persona she had working, the music got a little redundant.

During the break between Peaches and Bauhaus, a group of stoner kids came over and commenced smoking copious amounts of ganja next to us. Amanda even got offered a toke while I was in the bathroom. Since neither of us like weed and Amanda likes her job and didn't want to fail a drug test, we figured we'd move over. We stood by the fence and watched Bauhaus, which I'm not familiar with, and Amanda was also not well-versed in. It was cool and rocking, but the crowd perked up noticeably when Bauhaus cleared out and Nine Inch Nails' roadies started clearing the stage.

The Tweeter Center staff walked through the lawn seats and told the crowd that they could sit in the unsheltered seats closer to the stage. Amanda, who wanted to be able to dance, hung back. One of the guys came over and told us we could move up.

"Well, here's pretty good," Amanda said.

He looked at us, and over his shoulders to see if anyone was around. "Or, would you like to sit under the roof in case it starts raining again?"

"Yes," I said, not caring if Amanda could dance or not at that point. The sky was brightening and streaked with the setting sun, but I didn't want to take a chance. Also, if I could get closer to the stage, that increased my odds of launching myself at Trent Reznor. We sat in row T, which was really close. I could see the roadies without looking at the video screens.

I looked around, and saw Beth, whose account is much more detailed and actually about the show than this one. I wasn't surprised that she was there, but it was odd to run into her in such a large crowd. She got up when the roadies started to prepare the stage. The smoke machine kicked in, and the crowd went nuts.

My benchmark for the best show I've ever seen is the Indigo Girls. (Can it. Those girls are awesome.) They consistently work hard, and you can tell they like to put on a good show for the audience. But I think that Nine Inch Nails may be my new litmus test for great live shows. Trent and crew do not stop for the entire show. Trent's a great showman-- writhing, jumping, crowd-surfing. He also wore a tank top in the hot weather, all the better to display his tickets to the gun show; nay, to show his tickets and guest passes to the gun show. His music is great, but good Christ on a Triscuit, he's hot.

I screamed and yelled and danced for the whole show, though not as vigorously as the girl in front of me, who I feared would give herself a spinal cord injury. I think my favorite performance was "Closer," but "Hurt" and "Something I Can Never Have" were also excellent. When Nine Inch Nails come around again, go see them, even if you're normally the folksy-pop type. A good show is a good show, regardless of genre.

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Me and Amanda, post-show, still rockin' out in post-concert traffic.

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