Saturday, May 23, 2009

Alternative Nation

Jane's Addiction / Nine Inch Nails / Street Sweeper
Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View, CA
May 22, 2009

Evidently, the NIN/JA Tour (clever!) was inspired by a desire to relive the glory of 1991's debut Lollapalooza Tour. Ironically, Umlaut also saw that trek at Shoreline. That show was the first time I ever used earplugs at a concert; our seats were in front of the stage right PA and NIN were fucking LOUD and Jane's even LOUDER.

(From the Umlaut Archives)

Fast forward to the 21st Century and you have to admit that on paper this was a pretty stellar post-120 Minutes / Alternative Nation bill. If Nirvana had simply broken up I'd like to think they'd be participating in a tour like this. Smells Like Teen Nostalgia; oh Kurt, you were so short-sighted.

Trivia: At Lollapalooza 1991 I watched the show from Section 103, Row Q. Here in the 21st Century I watched the show from Section 101, Row T.

The last time I saw Tom Morello was in 2005. I was completely unfamiliar with Street Sweeper, Morello's new project. One of their songs uses the riff from 'Straight To Hell' by The Clash, which I suppose is cool but it could also be construed as sacrilegious; my opinion falls somewhere in the middle. Discuss amongst yourselves.

The last time I saw Nine Inch Nails was in 2005. I've never been a huge NIN fan; I'm the type of casual follower who is happy if they play 'Head Like A Hole'. Evidently this is NIN's final tour but their performance didn't give any indication that Trent & Co. were merely going through the motions on this victory lap. In contrast to the headliners who followed them, NIN performed as a tight volume machine onstage and were much better than I was expecting them to be. The guy next to me was an obvious hardcore NIN fan and a couple of times during the set he elbowed me and screamed "I CAN'T BELIEVE HE PLAYED THAT SONG!!" and I'd nod in faux agreement. Sorry, dude... I'm a NIN poser.

'March Of The Pigs' was probably my favorite song of the set, although 'The Hand That Feeds' was great and the crowd was WAY into it... At that moment I thought to myself "Man, if they play 'Head Like A Hole' next they'll blow the roof off this place"... and that's exactly what Trent & Co. did. Awesome.. My initial reaction, which was captured in a text message, was "FUCK".. During 'Hurt' a straight couple in front of me made out while the gay dudes next to them had their arms around each other... Awww. After NIN laid waste to the stage, our row of seats emptied and it was obvious who some people had come to Shoreline to see..

NIN tuning the smoke machines
(Pic by Umlaut)

The last time I saw Jane's Addiction was in 2002. I've never been a huge Jane's fan; I'm the type of casual follower who is happy if they play 'Ocean Size'. Much was made prior to the tour about founding member Eric Avery's return and the band finally having all of the original members back for this reunion tour. However, unlike NIN who acted like a complete unit onstage, Jane's was more like 3/4 of the band and the bassist.. Avery barely interacted with the other members of his "band" and the dichotomy of his low key t-shirt, jeans, and tennis shoes versus Navarro's leather pants sans shirt and Perry's corset costume thing was obvious. It was just weird how Avery was so detached and in his own little world onstage, while his Rock Star bandmates posed and made with the cock jokes.. Thankfully, Avery's musicianship shined through the smoke and schtick and it was nice that his bass was up in the mix so you could hear how his bass lines really do anchor Jane's radio hits.

That being said, I actually yawned during 'Ted, Just Admit It' because I just wasn't feeling it... but thankfully the opening guitar doodle and launch into 'Ocean Size' brought the set back to life for me. I did appreciate Perry giving props to Bill Graham and the legacy of Bay Area Music... and he also hugged a 60-year old guy in the front row.. which was a bit too Hippie Shit.. but I'll let it slide.

There have been times in my life when I've gravitated towards Jane's Addiction's music... but I have to say at this moment in my life I related more to NIN on this chilly night in Mountain View.. and, if this really was the final time, I'm waving goodbye.

THANKS to Tour Manager Doug for sorting my +1.

Atomic Records shirts = 1. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. Hmm... after my reaction to the show it's ironic that as I type this I'm listening to Jane's Addiction's Triple XXX debut album. I'm talkin' 'bout the pig.. I guess.