The Bubble and the Bag Policy
Nine Inch Nails went on tour but they did not have D.C. on the schedule, which was rather alarming. So I had to look around for a place to see them. By the time I learned Trent was touring we had missed the Philly show. The next closest place was Blossom Music Center located somewhere between Cleveland and Akron. It was about a five hour drive, so why not?
It might as well have been the moon.
D.C. is our bubble. We live in our bubble and we know our bubble. We like our bubble. When we leave our bubble it can be disturbing and this was one of those times. It is a given that when you are going to see Nine Inch Nails, there will be a lot of people there dressed in black with heavy eyeliner and belts with spikes. Okay, whatever. But when you go to see Nine Inch Nails in an exurb in Ohio, you also get, well, Ohioans living in their own bubble. That bubble includes people who smoke, yikes! There were also lots of rural folks dressed in t-shirts, jeans and ball caps. It seemed incongruous to the Goths also in attendance. Everyone was drinking a lot. And I mean a lot. There were more vendors selling alcohol than food.
This was also our first experience with a no bag or clear bag policy. When attending a concert, I always take a small purse to carry essentials, glasses and such, no bigger than about 10 x 10. They stopped me and gave me a no go on the bag. Seriously? Yes. It was too large. The most you could carry was a small wallet. The bag also had the audacity to be black instead of clear. If my bag was made of clear plastic, it could be the size of carry-on luggage. So long as they could see inside of it, size did not appear to matter. I walked back to the car wondering what to do. I found a clear plastic shopping bag which I stuffed my things into, thereby allowing the world to see what I carry around in my purse. It was annoying but I had no choice.
I had never heard of a clear bag policy so I checked the oracle of all knowledge. The Google told me that the clear bag policy had been implemented first by the NFL during early COVID. It meant no one had to touch a bag. The powers that be a pain in the neck soon realized that no bags kept the lines moving. So now every venue is adopting the no bag or clear bag policy. If you have a medical reason to bring a bag in, there is a separate line for you that is far away and akin to being treated like a leper.
Needless to say, the no bag policy pisses people off but the people who own or operate these venues know that it is going to save them a ton of money not having to search bags. So the policy is not going anywhere any time soon. (I ended up buying a few size compliant bags as well as a clear bag for future concerts.)
But I digress—back to Nine Inch Nails. Trent Reznor grew up north of Pittsburgh on the way to Erie. In that area, Cleveland was the place to go to be a rock musician and that is where he ended up. So for him it was like coming home. On top of that, NIN was being inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame and it was going to be a special show.
The place was packed. Every seat was sold. Usually we swap out our ticketed seats for accessible seating at concerts. No dice. There were no accessible seats to be had.
There were two opening acts—Nietzer Ebb, who I had never heard of but kind of enjoyed because the music is basically Teutonic drumming and chanting, and Ministry whose set was ear splitting in a not very interesting way.
Now finally NIN. I have seen NIN many times and I hate to say it but it was not an interesting show. It seemed disjointed. The lighting was weird. Instead of discreet cameras to show the people on stage up close, he had people on the stage with video cameras getting into the musician’s faces for the big screen. It was intrusive.
Maybe all of his Hollywood soundtrack work is making him less intense. Because of the Hall of Fame ceremony, he had a bunch of friends backstage, old band mates, who he brought out to play with him at the end. Maybe that was distracting. Maybe it was because we were not in our bubble. Whatever was happening, it was not that good.
After the show, we really wanted to get the heck out of Ohio.