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Nine things to expect from Nine Inch Nails' farewell tour

August 26, 2009 | 11:34 am

Nin1

In a week, Nine Inch Nails will roll into Los Angeles to play four nights at the Palladium, the Music Box @ Fonda, the Wiltern and the Echoplex. Barring some kind of Brett Favre-like fake-out, these shows are expected to be the band's last ever -- or at least for a while, according to frontman Trent Reznor.

We caught up with the rock group on Sunday, their second of four dates in New York. NIN played to a Webster Hall crowd packed wall-to-wall.

Fans reeled as the band played its sophomore record, "The Downward Spiral," in its entirety for what was believed to be the first -- and possibly last -- time. Reznor and Co. didn't stop there, following up with a slew of favorites spanning its 20-year catalog.

The show gives us a hint of what to expect when NIN arrives in their home base of L.A. Here are nine things to look out for:

If you didn't get tickets, there is (some) hope: Reznor seems to love treasure hunts. Last summer, the band started hiding envelopes around L.A., ensuring the finders free concert tickets.

Spinning off that game, fans in New York were being told via Twitter to search areas of the city for a band representative to score a free pair of tickets. It's probably a safe bet that they'll do the same in L.A.

They also sold a few tickets at the Webster Hall doors a couple of hours before the show.

Unusual set lists: Playing "The Downward Spiral" at Webster Hall was a testament to the likelihood of hearing song combinations that NIN has never attempted live before. At the same show, the band cautiously ...

... dived into "Lights in the Sky," a quieter song from "The Slip" that the band named a recent tour after but rarely played.

Thanks to longer sets, old favorites like "The Hand That Feeds" and "Head Like a Hole" will likely make the cut as well.

Obscure cover songs from the late '70s and '80s: Concert-goers can probably expect one or two synthesizer-laden cover songs from Gary Numan, Joy Division and Queen, among others. NIN played the Numan song "Metal" on Sunday.

Special guests: When Reznor announced the "Wave Goodbye" tour, he teased about "possible special guests." We didn't catch any celebrity sightings in New York, but we expect Reznor will hand out tickets to some of his L.A. buddies. Tony Hawk wrote on Twitter that he's "gonna try" to attend one of the dates.

Hot and sweaty: NIN is a band that has sold out arenas. Cram its fans into one of these comparatively small theaters, and things start to get nasty. Pushy NIN fans require adequate ventilation that these venues sadly do not offer.

If you're at the front gates, prepare to be physically abused. (When "March of the Pigs" starts, you might want to get out of the way.)

NIN fans have no rhythm: We witnessed an embarrassing attempt at clapping along to "Hurt," prompting a chastising "you guys have no rhythm" comment. The song's tempo is 80 beats per minute, guys. If you don't know what that means, please keep your hands at your side. And the sing-alongs were equally bad.

Black clothes: If you're not wearing black, you'll stick out like a badly bruised thumb. NIN shows bring out some entertaining gothic get-ups. And this is one of the few events where it's apparently acceptable to wear the band's own T-shirts.

Merchandise sells out quickly: T-shirts exclusive to any given night and posters for each city have sold out before the opener leaves the stage. If you want a shot at buying one of these, get to the venue early.

An encore isn't assured: Fans howled and clapped for at least 10 minutes after the group left Webster Hall's main stage. Some slowly filtered out as others stood dumbfounded that the band wasn't coming out to play an encore. To be fair, the main set was exceptionally long, but encores are practically a given nowadays.

Nin2

L.A. dates:
Sept. 2: Hollywood Palladium
Sept. 3: Music Box @ Fonda
Sept.  5: The Wiltern
Sept.  6: Echoplex

-- Mark Milian

Photos: Mark Milian / Los Angeles Times

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