NIN in Italy

overcoming fear of the blank page

The number one reason you want to live in Europe is for the easy access to awesome gigs, AMIRIGHT? In the space of a few short months I’ve seen Steven Wilson, Depeche Mode, Bloc Party and Nine Inch Nails – and a few more planned shows for the rest of the year. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I’d have to shell out and how many years I’d have to wait to see all those gigs in Australia. Tickets here are really reasonably priced (compared to Australia which, I know, is really far away and expensive to get to for a band and all that gear) and all the venues so far have been pretty interesting.

So I went to see NIN in Milan on Wednesday night – side note, AWESOME GIG. One of my most favourite ever, thanks Trent Reznor! – and boy was it a different experience. I don’t mean the gig itself, which I won’t bang on about because this isn’t a music blog. Rather, the Italian venue experience… almost the same as other places, but quite different.

From the moment we stepped off the train we were bombarded by the usual array of ticket scalpers. No matter where you are in the world these guys are identical. I think maybe they are all clones of the same all-powerful ticket scalper who works the world over. That is one creepy dude. But there were also guys selling beer and soft drinks out of mobile tubs. We were keen to get into the concert and also keen not to get too drunk so we bypassed these guys – but I thought, gosh, how enterprising. And the other thought I had, which I have very frequently, was: you couldn’t do that in Australia. You’re probably not supposed to do it in Italy, either, but Italian police being what they are and corruption being what it is, and what with the economy… well, a person has to make a lira anyway they can.

Then there were loads of dudes (all dudes, not a woman in sight) selling NIN t-shirts. I assume this was official merchandise because it was all on sale right there in front of the venue, but it looked anything but official. I might go so far as to say it looked downright dodgy. It was an impromptu market of grubby men selling shirts which may or may not have fallen off the back of a truck. As Stevie Wonder would say, if he were slurring, very suspicious.

Maybe that’s just the way they do it in Italy. The guys who are licensed to sell the official gear just happen to be the same guys who sell knock-off Gucci handbags in the market during the day. There were some guys on the bridge from the train station who were definitely not legit – selling just a few t-shirts pinned to a sheet. I was really struck by how much planning must go into that. You’d have to know what gigs are coming up, right? Or do you just get a phone call from a ‘friend’ who says, “by the way, there’s a gig on tomorrow night, I happen to have a few spare t-shirts… if you’re free, no pressure or anything…”

When did Trent get so big, btw? (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)
When did Trent get so big, btw? (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

Getting into the venue was kind of odd, too. The security guard glanced at our tickets, gave us a curt nod and said, “Bye”. We stood there looking like the dumb tourists we are. Did that mean there was something wrong with our tickets? Was he kicking us out? WERE WE GONNA MISS THE SHOW!!? But then with a little wave of impatience he moved aside to show that he expected us to go past him. After the ten hour bus and train ride it took us to get to Milan, I’m not sure how I would’ve handled not getting in.


Unfortunately, we missed Tomahawk because Mediolanum Forum is further out of Milan than we realised. Give yourself 30 – 45 minutes to get there from Central Milan. You need to buy an Urban Zone + 1  ticket and take the green line to Assago Mediolanum.

Gigs in Europe start on time. This never happens in Australia.

You need to queue up to buy tickets for drinks, then queue up again to trade your ticket in for a drink. True story. You have to queue twice. I don’t understand why. Be patient – you’ll get there in the end.

PS – And in case I forgot to mention it, the gig was AWESOME

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Nat Newman

Nat Newman is an award-winning writer of short stories, content, podcasts, feature articles, drunk text messages and, soon, a novella.


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