Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Nine Inch Nails @ Hammerstein Ballroom, May 16, 2005

Last night I knocked off yet another band from the pantheon of great artists I had never seen live before - Nine Inch Nails. They would have been off the list in December of 1994 had it not been for a member of the opening band, Marilyn Manson, breaking his arm, causing the show to be postponed by one night, and I wasn't able to attend the rescheduled date.

I was never a NIN obessive. I have always been a big fan of The Donward Sprial but for some unexplainable reason never bought Pretty Hate Machine (I had Broken but didn't know it that well). I spent a summer working for Formula PR, which was originally started by Trent as his own PR machine (and he had his ex-girlfriend run the thing). By the time I worked there, Formula only did electronic stuff and was pretty much done with Nothing Records - but that is another story. Nonetheless, especially after getting [With_Teeth], I was very excited about this show and expecting nothing short of a spectacle.

As a concert experience, it was nuts. Like OL, and SoF, I was very happy to be on the 1st mezz - the floor looked absoultely mental from above as OL said. From a distance, a crowd that frenzied creates a great energy (but I imagine up close, would have had me clutching on for dear life). Opening with a scathing "You Know What You Are" off the new album, Trent and co. brought the high heat from the first pitch so to speak. Fierce energy articulated with precision. That feeling sums up the whole night for me. Many of the great NIN songs were played, like "Closer," "Hurt," and "March of the Pigs" - and the sound was as sharp as I have ever heard the Hammerstein Ballroom - but the sheer power in the back and forth energy between the band and the crowd was left the most profound mark on me.

For an aggro rock show, the gender breakdown (close to even) spoke volumes about how Trent's persona (looks and personality) impacts who loves them. If an unattractive, less charismatic figure was up there screaming "bow down before the one you serve," I doubt that any of the 100s of girls declaring their unbridled love for Trent would still be there. And I think that is also the case with the male fans too - Trent's brooding personality gives the music a far more interesting context. I think it is impossible to take him away from the music when thinking about NIN.

The show came to an absolutely cathartic conclusion with "Head Like a Hole." When they walked off, even though there had been no encore, you knew it hand to end there - there was nothing that could top that as an ending. "Head..." was a highlight, along with, not surprisingly "Closer" and "March of the Pigs." I enjoyed all of the new songs that were played but "The Heand that Feeds" right after "Hurt" was killer - it's an evil song with a very danceable rhythm. Like SoF, I was hoping to hear a couple of the new songs that weren't played, like "All the Love in the World" and "Only" but there was plenty there to keep me happy.

For more in the blogosphere about the show: OL, SoF, Brooklyn Vegan (who has great photos), and Central Village.


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