COLUMN: ‘You get me closer to God’

Erin Roof

I have finally seen Nine Inch Nails. My life is fulfilled.

Last Sunday, I was within spitting distance of Trent Reznor: my favorite musician, cult anti-hero, leader of Nine Inch Nails and star of my teenage girl wet dreams. I felt 17 years old again as I watched him play at the Gund (oh, excuse me, I mean Quickens Loan suck ass Arena). And, I’ll admit it, I even squealed when he came onstage.

I am a HUGE NIN fan. I mean . . . it’s creepy.

It takes a certain type of person to be a Nails fanatic. Depression and self-destruction are a given. To many hardened fans, including myself, the music is a tool to cope. There is some solace in knowing no matter how painful a person’s reality is, Reznor has experienced it, too.

Sometimes I think NIN is the only reason I made it through high school alive.

I discovered NIN my senior year at a time when I hated everything: my shitty little town, my shitty family life, my shitty drugs and my shitty friends. I had a void in my life no amount of church sermons or ABC after school specials could fill . . . until I listened to The Fragile.

In the days after I first heard NIN, I became obsessed. Sickly obsessed. NIN was my life – from the moment I came home from school until I passed out, all I did was smoke pot and listen to NIN. I collected all the NIN CDs and videos I could get my hands on, (I am the proud owner of all Halos, thank you very much.) and I covered a wall in my bedroom with photos of Reznor from ceiling to floor.

Creepy . . .

As Reznor is notorious for making fans wait years between albums and tours, I salivated in hesitation for four years before my first opportunity to see him live. The show was a sweaty cathartic release. After my initial lung-collapsing fright when the mosh pit erupted, I blew the dust from my teenage angst and flung myself into the waves of fans.

Sure, it smelled really bad and I had parts of my anatomy pressed up against people I would not normally allow within five feet of me, but it was totally worth it to see Nails so close. I had water poured on me by both Reznor and Twiggy Ramirez (oh, excuse me, I mean Jeordie White). I would have bottled it if I could.

It was the best two hours of my life.

The pinnacle was during “Hurt.” For me, this song has transcended Reznor’s anguish and become an expression of my own personal tragedy, as I was recently told I am a walking example of. It also serves as a warning for everyone who has dared to come near me as a disaffected youth to now, as an even more confused adult struggling with even deeper pain.

I cried as Reznor sang it, thinking about all the times in my life when these words brought me sad comfort:

What have I become/ my sweetest friend/ everyone I know/ goes away in the end/

And you could have it all/ my empire of dirt/ I will let you down/ I will make you hurt.

Erin Roof is a senior magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].