Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Photos/Review: Nine Inch Nails @ Barclays Center

Nine Inch Nails @ Barclays Center - October 14, 2013
Photos/Review: Chris

The last time I caught Nine Inch Nails was in early 2006, an experience I’ll never forget. The first attempt to make it to that show at UMass Amherst, seven of us crammed into an SUV (two in the front, four in the back, one in the trunk) and drove all the way from New York City to Amherst with not much of a plan as far as what we were going to do once we arrived the night before the concert. We successfully tricked a Holiday Inn to give us a room for two people, though obviously we snuck the other five through the back entrance. All was going well until we stopped at a diner the next morning only to be asked by a couple guys next to us, “Are you going to the Nine Inch Nails show tonight?” We nodded. “Well the show is cancelled. Trent Reznor is sick.” That was a long drive back to New York City that day.

The second attempt came six weeks later when the seven of us drove back up to Amherst for the make-up date. We successfully got to the university (though I remember missing the first few songs), and Trent Reznor put on one of the most elaborate and thought-provoking arena shows I had seen up until that point. The imagery displayed on the screen behind the band (one particular image of George W. Bush dancing with his wife is still burned into my brain), gave me chills, but also made me want to crawl underneath my seat and weep. It’s seeing Nine Inch Nails live that truly makes you understand Trent Reznor’s vision. That show was a real eye-opener for me, musically and personally.

We drove back to some other hotel after the concert and attempted to pull off the same scheme of two of us asking for a room in the lobby, then sneaking the other five through a back entrance. It didn’t work this time. Within seconds of ushering in the group, the creepy guy from the lobby angrily knocked at the door, and when we opened it, he started screaming at us in this high-pitched wail I’ll never forget. “YOU LIED TO ME! I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU WOULD DO THAT! YOU ALL HAVE TO LEAVE, I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU WOULD PULL THIS ON ME!” I remember it being simultaneously horrifying and hilarious, and to this day, we still randomly yell “YOU LIED TO ME!” to anyone else who was there when that happened.

Flash forward to 2013, and Nine Inch Nails have been through several new albums, side projects, tours, and even a hiatus. But NIN is back, and with their new album Hesitation Marks, their first major label release since 2007’s Year Zero, Trent Reznor and company are on a lengthy arena tour to support it. The four year hiatus didn’t have much of an effect on Reznor’s ability to plow through a 26-song career spanning setlist, clocking in at just about two hours, with virtually no breaks aside from just before their four-song encore.

Older songs like “Terrible Lie,” “March of the Piggies” and “Piggy” were reminders of why people fell in love with the band to begin with, but the newer material from Hesitation Marks stood up surprisingly well amongst the classics. And the light show on this tour, though it may sound hyperbolic, is one of the most elaborate light shows I’ve ever seen on a stage. With two screens that stretched the width of the stage, one in front of the band that was apparently also transparent, and one in the back that would intermittently switch between band silhouettes, abstract liquid lights and video footage, not to mention these insane hydraulic lights above the band that were doing all sorts of wacky things throughout the show… it was a sight to be seen.

But it was the moment that the stage went dark and all you could hear were the synth sounds of The Downward Spiral’s “A Warm Place” and the wave of applause that slowly grew to a roar in the completely packed Barclays Center, that I remembered why I fell in love with Nine Inch Nails’ music so long ago. Underneath all that grinding, static noise is some of the most beautiful music written in the past twenty years. When the band closed out the show with “Hurt,” accompanied by imagery of war, executions and a GIGANTIC snake head, it was impossible to not be completely in awe of what Reznor has achieved since he decided to start noodling around a recording studio in the late ‘80s. Reznor himself took a brief moment before the encore to admit he couldn’t believe that he gets to do what he does, and the moment did not come off as contrived.

We unfortunately missed opener Godspeed You! Black Emperor because of my own stupidity, but also because there was some conflicting information on Ticketmaster and the Barclays Center website that printed different show times. Godspeed was a great choice for NIN to take on tour though, and I can only imagine how their sound comes off in a massive arena.

Check out some far away photos of Nine Inch Nails, the setlist and tour dates below…

Copy of A
Terrible Lie
March of the Pigs
All Time Low
Came Back Haunted
Find My Way
The Frail
The Wretched
In Two
A Warm Place
Somewhat Damaged
The Hand That Feeds
Head Like a Hole

The Day the World Went Away
Even Deeper
While I'm Still Here
Black Noise

Nine Inch Nails -- 2013 Tour Dates
10-19 University Park, PA Bryce Jordan Center ^
10-21 Raleigh, NC PNC Arena ^
10-22 Nashville, TN Bridgestone Arena ^
10-24 Atlanta, GA Philips Arena ^
10-25-27 Asheville, NC Mountain Oasis Electronic Music Summit
10-30 Sunrise, FL BB&T Center
10-31 Orlando, FL Amway Center
11-01-03 New Orleans, LA Voodoo Music Experience
11-05 San Antonio, TX AT&T Center *
11-08 Los Angeles, CA Staples Center *
11-09 Phoenix, AZ US Airways Center *
11-11 El Paso, TX Don Haskins Center *
11-13 Broomfield, CO 1st Bank Center *
11-15 Las Vegas, NV The Joint *
11-16 Las Vegas, NV The Joint *
11-18 Portland, OR Rose Garden Arena *
11-19 Spokane, WA Spokane Arena *
11-21 Vancouver, British Columbia Rogers Arena *
11-22 Seattle, WA KeyArena *
11-24 Edmonton, Alberta Rexall Place
11-25 Calgary, Alberta Scotiabank Saddledome
* - w/ Explosions in the Sky
^ -w/ Godspeed You! Black Emperor


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