Follow That Smoke or My Trip To the NiN/JA Show

Nine Inch Nails

I swear Trent Reznor is down there somewhere singing "Mr Self Destruct"

We piled into the car long before the sun went down.  The drive to Irvine would not be a light one, and impressing this information upon my travelling companions is difficult.  Saying that a band is playing in L.A. is a little misleading.  For those not in the know, generally speaking, all of Southern California somehow gets grouped into the “Los Angeles” tag line.  Which means seeing a band play in L.A. could mean a light walk down the street or a long death march across the sea of cars, construction, and the contant threat of “Can we make it there in time” looming over your heads.  As per usual, this was the latter.

Driving out of Hollywood proper in the middle of the six o’clock rush hour is kind of like prodding an albino rhino with a stun gun and then when he’s good and mad trying to shove the beast through a garden hose with the water on full blast.  There’s a lot of squeeling and anger and someone’s probably going to get a horn in the ass.  But after nearly 45 minutes of crawling along the backroads and freeways of the Hollywood/Burbank hills and listening to a constant loop of Danzig croaking out tunes with the Misfits, we made our way to the freeway.  Not that this is where the traffic ended mind you, but once you are actually on the road everything becomes a blur.

We rode into Irvine shortly after the listed time for Nine Inch Nails to go on, which was probably a good thing.  We drove around lost for about 5 minutes until billowing smoke from the opening pyrotechnics appeared to guide us like wise men to the angry baby Jesus waiting at the other end.  Because of our lateness  and noting the polar bear waving us on with his glowing baton and the “North Pole” sign, nearby, we knew we had parked somewhere in another time zone and the walk would be immense.

I lost two camels on that walk, one to dehydration and the other because we had to stop and cook something…anything to keep up our energy levels.

Nin/Ja Crowd

The sea of people

Enough bullshit.

So we caught plenty of Reznor and company playing.  A loud angry performance showing the man and his backup band hadn’t lost any of their bite over the years.  I will admit that there were lulls in the energy while the band switched from quieter and more straight forward songs from later albums and the scorching thrash sessions mostly representing the first half of their catalog.  There was a very surreal moment at the end, as their finale of ‘Head Like A Hole’ turned into some kind of Journey-esque sing along, with the massive crowd overpowering Reznor’s yell.  I personally looked around and was amazed, good or bad, it was interesting that a band that was so insular when I was in High School had somehow graduated into arena rock territory.

Jane’s Addiction followed, Perry Farrell and Dave Navarro strutting on to the stage like peacocks.  While the set seemed a little short, the band more than made up for it in pure rock power.  Snarling and screaming, the member’s of Jane’s looked like they were having a blast.  Ferrell’s voice hasn’t sounded this good in years, he’s got strength and power in it and sounded right at home in the giant stadium, filling up every inch with his sonic onslaught.  And Dave Navarro, while looking a little too much like Anton LaVay, can shred like no one’s business.  My only real complaint, was that they didnt delve too far from the safe territory of their hits, but in a show this size, I guess that’s to be expected.

This is *not* Dave Navarro, did you know the difference?

This is *not* Dave Navarro, did you know the difference?

Dave Navarro?

Dave Navarro?

All in all, a good evening of music.  There was once a time in the mid-nineties where if you asked me if I would ever get to see Jane’s Addiction playing live, I would have laughed loudly.  But sometimes the universe does right by you.


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