Xtna and I just returned home from the gala NIN concert at Xcel Energy Center. After washing the blood and sweat from my body (some of it my own) I am ready to give a reasonable recounting for those who have never experienced the Xcel Energy Center, Nine Inch Nails, or the “Minnesota Mosh.”
The Xcel Energy Center
The concert took place at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. We arrived during the Queens of the Stone Age set, and had some drinks and had a chance to wander the facilities during intermission.
The Xcel is a nice venue, and after attending a concert here, you can understand why people hate the Metrodome. I thought Target Center was nice, but the Xcel is far superior. Two words; Fuh Sillities. Plenty of places to load and unload your bladder. Clean clean clean. Fantastic sound system. Well done.
Usually I end up with seats so close to the ceiling that you get a better view by looking over the shoulder of the guy in front of you, who is using his cell phone to download blurry, lo-res pix being posted to the Interweb by some drunk guy in the twentieth row. Through some strange Ticketmaster Computer Glitch of Fate, we ended up with tickets to the main floor. Fate had nothing to do with Xtna marching us right through the crowd to front-and-center, about 15-20 rows back from the stage. I was even closer to Trent than when I visited his home in New Orleans’ French Quarter, two years ago.
Of course, this particular spot was Ground Zero when the mosh pit broke out… but I’ll get to that.
Every NIN concert I’ve attended has been awesome, and this one was no exception.
I’ve been to all NIN concerts here in MN since the Downward Spiral tour, and the crowd has changed substantially over the years. Very few in the crowd last night wore the faded black gang colors of my industrial/goth brethren. Many of them look like people you stood in line next to at the grocery store last week. Ages ran the gamut.
Trent Reznor does not talk much in concert. He does not take requests. He does not care if you mosh while he plays peaceful, minimalist movements like “Right Where It Belongs” He does not care if you stand unmoving and transfixed, your lighter in the air during “Hurt.” He does not care if the crowd sings the chorus to “Terrible Lie” so loudly that he does not have to. He does not care if you cower in fear for your life while the crowd becomes blissfully suicidal during the encore, “Bite The Hand That Feeds.”
He does not care, nor has he mellowed with age. The man is pissed off and willing to share – take it or leave it. His anger is still contagious and therapeutic. This is church for myself and many others. Hallelujah.
The Minnesota Mosh
It didn’t take long before the mosh pit opened up all around Xtna and me. So we got two shows for the price of one, and I can’t say which was more entertaining. It was fun to watch an angry moshing group try to hold the slam dance together when Trent shifts to his more ambient, passive movements.
But I did observe enough to learn a bit about the Minnesota Mosh, and identified several helpful rules if you are at a Lutheran Potluck and a Mosh breaks out.
Rules for the Minnesota Mosh:
The people not wearing shirts (usually male) are Professionals. Watch them, they know what they are doing, and tend to enforce the rules.
The Circle usually spins widdershins (anti-clockwise).
It is OK to run full-tilt-out-of-control straight into another person, but punching or kicking them is frowned upon.
If you knock anyone over, help them back up.
If anyone passes out or gets knocked out, (or if you don’t really like them), ‘put them up’ which means to raise them up so the crowd gets them body surfing, then Security will quickly haul them out, as body surfing is not allowed.
If you find yourself at the edge of the moshpit, but don’t want to join in, you have three options. First, you can move someplace else. Second, you can avoid eye contact and hold your ground (having your elbow directed firmly toward the moshpit helps.) This will minimize the number of people who run into you. Third, you can watch the pit and actively push bodies that get near you back into the pit. This will increase the number of people who run into you.