Perhaps calling this post a "Pit Report" is a tad disingenuous, given that we had seats a pretty good distance from the floor, but let's not quibble about semantics. I'm calling this a Pit Report and there's nothing you can do to stop me! So let's get started, shall we?
When I was younger, my admittedly puerile attitude towards live shows was that I paid to see band X, not the various shitty unknowns that band X decided to drag along with them on tour. As such, we always used to see the opening bands' sets as travel time to get to the show (if it was out of town) or drinking time before the show (if it was local). Now that I'm older, wiser, and taking music a little more seriously (I'm writing this blog, aren't I?) I've thankfully adopted a different attitude, namely that catching the opening acts is both a good way of supporting all the bands on a tour and a good way to discover new music that I might really end up digging.
Unfortunately, our Friday schedule's just wouldn't let us get to Toronto early enough to catch Trent's chosen openers, Explosions in the Sky. Actually that's not quite true: we did get to the ACC in time to catch literally the last few minutes of their set, and while that's not exactly ideal when it comes to forming an accurate picture of a band's sound, I did hear enough to get a few basic impressions. So in a nutshell, Explosions in the Sky sound like a tasty guitar-based post-rock band that's equal parts atmosphere and dense melodies. Definitely a band to check out if you dig that sort of thing (which I do).
And then there was Nine Inch Nails. Trent and Company put together a nearly two hour set that balanced the band's deep catalogue with the need to play a healthy amount of material from the new album Hesitation Marks. About the only cut I would have liked to hear and didn't was "Closer", but I can hardly complain about a set list that included "The Wretched", "Head like a Hole", "Terrible Lie", "March of the Pigs", "Wish", and "Hurt", among many others. (Since we live in an age of wonders, the complete set list is already online right here at setlist.fm)
Not only was the set list put together well, the lights show was also top notch, which is both something that's missing from many modern metal/rock shows as well as something I don't usually give two shits about. The way I see it, I paid to see a band perform, not to watch some Laser Floyd, fireworks display. Having said that, however, the light show on Friday night meshed really well with the music virtually every step of the way, and was second only to the time I saw Tool back in 2009 in terms of suitability and sheer coolness. Kudos to whoever came up with the eye candy.
Overall it was a great night -- including the three hours or so of driving each way -- but I was unfortunately reminded of a couple of my pet peeves about more mainstream, less underground shows. One's just a minor, personal thing: every big rock show has its share of drunker dancers (usually women, usually thirty-somethings or older) shuffling rhythmlessly from one foot to the other in some kind of sad zombie shamble. We both know the kind of concertgoer I'm talking about, and I always feel vicarious embarrassment for them.
My other complaint is a little more legit (in my opinion, anyways) and concerns something I've experienced a number of times over the years when enjoying a show from somewhere other than the floor or pit. I get that people want to get into this performance by their favourite band or whatever, but when I pay for a SEAT to a concert, I damn well expect to sit in it. Call me an old curmudgeon if you will, but it irks me to no end when people who are in seated sections stand up for some or all of a show.
Not only do you fuck over the person sitting directly behind you, but you fuck over everyone in the whole section because your decision to stand and block the view of the person behind you means they have to stand to see, which blocks the view of the person behind them and starts this big chain reaction that only ends when everybody's standing in front of the seats they paid, in this case, like ninety bucks a pop for. If you want to stand the whole time, fine, get a floor ticket. If you've got tickets for seats, then SIT THE FUCK DOWN. Rant over.
Just in case the last paragraph or two sounded a little bitter, let me reiterate: the Nails put on a great show, and considering Trent has gone on hiatus or the like at least once in the last few years I feel lucky to have seen them in good form and before Trent decides to retire for good. If you're on the fence about checking out the Tension 2013 tour, get off that fence and go get your ticket, because you won't be disappointed.