Alright, now for the really fun stuff. So as I mentioned before, I had a ton of things with me to sign, which I had to narrow down to two items - one for me and one for Hops. I had ticket stubs, cd booklets, my original NIN Spiral (fanclub) membership card, and some special lithographs that were issued to Spiral members back in 2006. The lithos are the size of album covers, and were from various releases. I ended up choosing to go with two lithos - one for The Fragile, and one for Broken. I chose Broken because this was next major release after Pretty Hate Machine and represented a departure from syth style electronic music to more industrial and harder sound. The Fragile is probably my favorite NIN album (if I was forced to choose). Its really tight, impressive because it is a two disc release, and has a broad range including some of Trent's best instrumental stuff (at least prior to the release of Ghosts I-IV in 2008).
Once the band had arrived and was set up, we were led back to a large room where they had a table set up, which the band was sitting behind. There was music playing - but I didn't recognize it. One thing I did recognize...those white shag rugs! Across from the table they had these little sitting areas set up like in a living room. With the rugs and all the gray leather furniture. So at the table the order of the band was Robin, Justin, Trent, then Ilan. There was one couple ahead of me in line so I was the third person at the table. This was good because they were talkative and I think it forced me to stay at each band member's station longer than I would have otherwise. Not that I said much - I was way too nervous. In fact, Hops did most of the talking. Basically I would go to each guy, introduce myself and shake their hand. But Hops was all talkative with each guy. He asked Robin how he was feeling (he had been sick earlier in the tour) and advised him to get hand sanitizer. He talked to Justin about the traffic in NJ, which Justin described as "thick". Hops said that they like everything "thick" in Jersey...I'm not sure if Justin got the joke or not.
Then came Trent. I had planned on telling him how I had been listening to his music since I was in my early teens and how it has grown with me and how he is the one band that I have consistently admired. Instead I just introduced myself and just stood there while he signed my lithograph. To break the silence Trent said "So I want to thank you for donating to this cause" or something like that. So I said "Well I want to thank you for giving us this opportunity". He smiled and gave me back my lithograph. As I moved down the line to Illan, Hops said "What she is trying to say, but is too nervous, is that she has been listening to your music since before she could drive". This got a big laugh. Then Hops said "Its been with her from awkward adolescence..." and I finished his sentence with "...to an equally awkward adulthood". So I guess my original intent was in there somewhere. At least we got a laugh out of it.
Ilan was nice and I introduced myself and got his signature too. Then Hops decided to chime in with a comment about Pink Floyd being superior to Zepplin - "Floyd by day and Zepplin by night". I guess Ilan had been Twittering with Mariqueen (Trent's fiancee) debating which band was better and Hops felt he had to get his two cents in. Well of course Ilan, being a drummer, was favoring Zepplin in the debate. So he and Hops discussed this at length as the rest of the autograph line started to back up behind him. Eventually Leo, one of the crew members, tapped Hops and let him know he needed to move along!
After getting the signatures, we waited for the rest of the people in our group to go through the line. Then it was time for each person to get their photo with the band. Again, we had just one couple in front of us. I gave our camera to Leo, who was going to take the picture for us. When it was our turn I walked up and stood next to Robin, thinking that Hops and I would each go on one side of Trent. I told Robin that he was going to really make me look short. Then I looked to my left and Trent was over there with his arms out like - what you don't want to stand next to me? - so I asked him for a hug. He was kind enough to oblige me. So Hops ended up next to Robin - I think he made a joke that Robin was getting stuck with him. Here is the picture.
After that I thanked Trent again and Trent actually went out of his way to go over to Hops and shake his hand. Although I was a little disappointed that I hadn't handled myself better when we were at the autograph table I though the picture and hug were great, and I was on cloud nine.
Now, off to the soundcheck!