My wife and were invited to see the NIN show at the Clark County Fairgrounds in Clark County, Washington which is only an hour drive from our house. One of the crew for the show knows my wife and invited to see the show and possibly hang out with the crew after the show.
We made it out to the show a little early, but after the last sound check and we did get a tour backstage. I knew something was different about this act when I saw two PowerMac G5s in special enclosures with their own UPS and a thousand wires trailing about the back heading toward the video and lighting rigs. Next I thought things were back to normal when I saw a Toshiba notebook on top of another case of equipment but then I saw PowerBook (or MBP?) with a small “NIN” sticker on it (Note: All the photos were taken under extremely poor lighting conditions with the camera in my mobile phone).
I was told this PowerBook (or MBP?) had the “Set Control” list which is a list of cues of what each crew member is to be doing at any point during the show. Its used by the stage manager. In fact almost every crew member had access to or had their own laptop, either a Mac or a PC, mostly dependent on the primary software they had to use. After the tour of the stage setup we left to go hang out in the crew’s tour bus. I don’t know if I’ve ever been in this kind of bus before but somewhere in a fading memory I feel like I have. Anyway, my first impression was that they have flat panel displays much larger than what I have at home (keep in mind this is for the crew and not the band). Young women came and went delivering food, drinks, and taking clothes away to be washed and dryed. We watched motorcycle videos on our friend’s PowerBook and discussed “The Corkscrew” at the Laguna Seca raceway.
Time for the show.
I had only seen NIN once before more than ten years ago so it was very very cool to see them again. We made it back to our seats about halfway through one of the opening bands, Bauhaus. Bauhaus in best known for their song “Bella Lugosi is Dead”. The look and vibe of Bauhaus is credited with influencing Trent Reznor and NIN years later. After Bauhaus it was time for NIN. The show was great and all their complicated lighting seemed to go very well. The audio quality was also very high which is something I’ve noticed more and more with bigger acts. Now fade to end of show and the really big LED panel decends:
It was a lot of work meeting up with our friend after the show as gates were closed and we were kicked out of the venue before he had finished breaking down his equipment. Eventually, we were able to get let back in to go hang out with the crew in their tour bus. From then on it was Mac this and Mac that. I have never met such a bunch of Mac geeks even at a MacWorld show.
Here it is midnight after a succesful show and all they are doing is trying to get the best liquid screensaver or widget. One of the crew had a brand new MacBook with the glossy display. The display was very bright and extremely sharp. The other crew had various G4 PowerBook models.
One of the crew is the self-appointed Mac Guru and helps everyone else out. He also set up an ingeneous wi-fi network. When bands arrive at a venue the venue charges them for internet access. The charge is per-feed so each ethernet cable costs $200/night (yes, that is a ridiculous price). The Mac Guru sets it up so they only need a single feed and he links each tour bus with its own AirPort Express network (for NIN there were four large tour buses).
One of the PowerBooks seems to have an issue with its AirPort not working so he has to actually jack in. I tried several tricks, even the PMU reset, but nothing would make that card work. In fact I’m not certain anything is wrong with the card or its driver, I strongly suspect the antenna cable may be loose somewhere underneath the aluminum and plastic.
Its now 1:30 AM and they are still talking about liquid screensavers, Trent has the best I’m told, and new widgets they can link with the tour buses GPS unit. I give them a few more links to cool widgets and show them how to tweak the RSS feeds in Safari. I also show one of them how to subscribe to a podcast he had heard about. They all have my email now. My work is done. Time to go home and rest.