Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Last night, I went to see Nine Inch Nails at the Izod Center. It was one of the most ambitious and least lazy concerts I've ever seen. 

Which was interesting: the upper section was more than half empty. And the energy level in the arena before they hit the stage was non-existent. It was weirdly quiet in the halls and in the arena before the band went on. Not a lot of teens or 20-somethings. 

But the floor was general admission and it was packed and that was the energy that Trent Reznor and the band fed off of. 

Whether or not Trent wanted to be part of any "scene," NIN was a big part of the "alternative rock" ... I don't want to say "movement," but you know what I mean. It was about not being overly retro, not relying on doing what arena rockers had done in the past, and it was about not losing you connection to your fans, even after you attain success. And not embarrassing your fans by selling out or giving up. 

Trent never betrayed the trust of his fans, and I don't think he's received credit for that. 

Anyway, last night's show was incredible. He drew a lot from The Slip, played a bunch of instrumentals from Ghosts and also drew from Year Zero. Of course he played earlier stuff too, but it wasn't like a "greatest hits" thing. And every song had its own lighting and stage design. This was the coolest stage presentation (you couldn't call it just a "light show," it was far more than that) I've ever seen, and I've seen Pink Floyd and U2's Zoo TV tour. It never seemed Spinal Tappy; rather it was Peter Gabriel-like in its way of making an arena show seem like art. It had to take a lot of work, and a lot of money, to create that show, and it would have been the easiest thing to just go out on tour without it, and to just play '90s stuff. 

So, much credit is due to Trent. I've been thinking about why he doesn't get the props that Radiohead do; he's as daring as they are, they sell about the same amount of records, yet they have been sainted, and he is sort of treated as yesterday's news. On the other hand, thousands of people at the show last night were as into the songs from The Slip as they were the songs from Pretty Hate Machine, so maybe Trent really doesn't need the attention from the mainstream. I'm excited to see what Trent does next, especially if it's the sequel to Year Zero

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