Tuesday, September 02, 2008

NIN in philly, PA

Lights in the Sky tour
29 august 2008

subhangi described NIN shows as a pilgrimage. if you've not experienced one, go. the band's toight, the lightshow's ridiculous and the music pummels you but rests sometimes too. if you're in the seats you won't get bruised, squashed or groped by strangers during Closer. but where's the fun in that?? floor's where it's at.

parked next to a car with license plate “haloeight.” mah peeps. dudes i hung with in line were pretty normal by NIN standards, whereas the chick i chatted with in jersey tried to convince me that the government's killing us off with poisoned contrails. i just put a video up on youTube as evidence – she told me – even though i know they'll come after me now. i guess right then the voices told her to do a snake-charmer dance because she did a rather nice one, and a couple people applauded. if that's what contrails do, i'll take some now kthxbye.

NIN.com presales go in first, so got front & nearlycenter squeezed beside a short guy on the rail, close enough to spit – as PK noted, and remained relatively anchored while the sea of bodies behind pitched & tossed.

Does It Offend You, Yeah was even better this time 'round – soundguy finally woke up and mixed the vocals higher. band still looked like kids in a playground onstage, hopping & cavorting, good-humored. DIOYY's one of NIN's better opening bands IMO – would put 'em just behind APC and saul williams. set could have been longer, which is high praise for an opening act.

[reason #811 why i love mac: despite crowd noise Shazam still tagged filler music between DIOYY and NIN.]

trent reznor said he spent 4mos in a dark room piecing together the Lights in the Sky stage show, and that effort shows. drums, mult. keyboards, a fucking vibraphone – all these sit on wheeled platforms so they can be pushed like satellites around a stage that changes 5 times in the course of the show. 3 sets of stage-wide hi-tech LED screens alternately hide & reveal the band, and PK says it's proximity sensors that allow reznor to wipe away the tapestry of white light as he moves behind the screen during Only, that choreographing such complex movement between performer and lighting beforehand would be impossible. if you're nikki sixx, you might fulminate against overproduced & ponderous visuals, but when you overlay that production with the raw energy that is nine inch nails, the reason you leave the floor exhausted and at peace, jeans drenched and leather belt soaked through, you get the pilgrimage thing.

after the 1st driving set of Slip tracks and The Frail/The Wretched, the band sans the drummer freese gathered at the veryfront of the stage before an LED screen as roadies hoisted up 3 sequencer & keyboard satellites. by the light of a glowing console on a dark stage we got to see reznor at work, setting up his shit to cue Me I'm Not. EVERYone was on a keyboard, not a guitar in sight, yet there's body-moving *music.* it's then that you derive the full appreciation of how much this man changed music since Pretty Hate Machine. yeah, reznor's great on piano and can find his way around a guitar, but where he really shines is in the piecing & mixing, and during Me I'm Not or Vessel YOU get to watch it. it's like being in the studio except instead of atticus ross & alan moulder you've got klorgon the tattoed wonder on one side of you and queen vampyra on the other.

NIN shows still draw a sizable goth contingent. they creep out of their hideyholes in whiteface with scars, tats and piercings; with buckles, corsets and 8” boots; with the vain hope that maybe this once they'll get The Perfect Drug live. they obvy didn't get the memo about HappySoberTrent.

HST's given to speeches on this tour, short 2min jobs where he sounds genuinely thankful, even smiles, and the philly speech after Echoplex addressed the change of his fan base:

Trent's speech 8/29/08

highlights if the vid upstairs doesn't load:

i'd like to thank our opening band Does It Offend You, Yeah. please, if you like them, go out and buy their record. you can steal everything i put out, i don't care anymore. take it.

someone asked me, y'know we've been doing this for awhile, and someone asked me, when you look out into the audience does it look the same as it did years ago? and there's one difference that i've noticed, and that is... like i went and saw Rage Against the Machine the other day at, uh...

[at this point klorgon loosed a primal howl that deafened me.]

where was it? - at Lollapalooza, and it was... we were on the stage watching out, and a million people, and it looked great and they kicked ass.

but i noticed, it was all dudes. all dudes, as far as you could see, just shirtless sweaty guys. and when we started out it was all dudes, you know like vampire dudes, and it was all guys...

and now a lot of... a lot of hot chicks in the front.

[a giant purple bra sailed onstage and dropped in front of finck, who picked it up and modeled it thoughtfully. klorgon bellowed again.]

i dunno whether that's a good or bad but... i've blown the mystique. let's get all dark in here, shall we.

let's kill the lights.

and then came Reptile.

set list, with differences from the East Rutherford show in strikes and green:


Letting You 


March of the Pigs 

Head Down 

The Frail 

The Wretched

(w/The Only Time breakdown)
Gave Up 

The Warning
Me I'm Not

The Great Destroyer
5 Ghosts I 

17 Ghosts II 

19 Ghosts III 

Ghosts Piggy 

The Greater Good
Wish (w/ Pinion intro) 

Terrible Lie 


The Big Come Down 

31 Ghosts IV
8 Ghosts I
Down in It 

The Hand That Feeds
Head Like A Hole 



God Given 

The Good Soldier

In This Twilight > Zero Sum

Down In It was introduced with “here's some really REALLY old shit” and it was balls.to.the.wall blinding force – one of this show's highlights IMO. an intrepid soul scrambled onstage in front of JMJ, ran over to reznor and bowed (one song early, bro), then made his way to finck before being tackled by security. took 5 guys to get him offstage. you gotta give the guy props for having balls but like the battered housewife, NIN fans fear anything that might set reznor off, like the lighter toss that prompted him to end an aWitha Teetha show in the middle of Hurt. HST was unfazed, however, and didn't miss a word.

another nifty use of those LED screens is the encore segue from dark stage into Echoplex. if you've seen the rehearsal vid you're familiar with how freese uses a Lemur to build the background drums; in the live show, the rear screen becomes a 16-step sequencer on a digital grid from which freesinator builds the drumtrack by touching a series of blocks... slowly too, so people like me who don't know a C-note from a centavo get the gist. the song ends with freese pulling beats away.

pix don't do it justice: check out this vid from the Toledo show.

in philly, as the 3 guitars wound down into silence, an errant, off-drumbeat rang. reznor glanced offstage, motioned “enough” and looked a little grumpy. the occasional fuckup isn't a bad thing, however; you derive more of an appreciation for what makes up a show.

missed Burn, Dead Souls and Suck in the set list, but In This Twilight // Zero Sum // exeunt still prickled the skin. and of course the savage beastie's been soothed and i won't need to kill anybody for at least a couple weeks.

1 comment:

heather said...

such a fantastic show review, i saw them just a few nights later and was pretty much blown away by their live show. astounding.