Putting on the Greatest Show on Earth?
The crowd milling about outside the bustling mid-town arena that Nine Inch
Nails was playing that evening was a strange lot. Some were dressed
to-the-max in "alternative" cool, taking on a casual appearance that one
sensed was as studied and deliberate as could be. Others looked like they
had just stepped out of some underground sewer system, clad in dirt-caked
jeans and strategically ripped T-shirts. And then there were those who had
wandered bu just to see what was going on with rock's hottest band; they
were dressed more like preppies on parade than any sort of grunge monsters.
Yet, somehow, all seemed welcome, all seemed at home as they stood in line
to see Trent Reznor and his boys. Maybe it was the fact that NIN had
established themselves as such a potent live band-- maybe it was just
because that night's show was the unquestioned "in" place to be. Whatever
the reason, some two hours before show time the sold-out concert was
certainly a bee-hive of activity.
On near-by street corners bootleg T-shirt vendors were doing brisk
business, selling their wares for $10 each-- less than half of what similar
products were costing inside the arena. Everywhere one looked, scalpers
patrolled, flashing their hand-full of prized ducats and shouting out the
universally understood two word battle cry, "who needs?" Cops milled
around, seemingly oblivious to the sundry "illegal" activities taking place
practically under their noses. They were there for "crowd control"
according to the sergeant in charge--though *this* crowd seemed to be in
little need of control. They were loud, they were boisterous, they were
even a little obnoxious, but they were orderly.
Inside the arena, Reznor was oblivious to the activity going on in the
streets surrounding him. NIN's main man seemed wrapped in a world all his
own, quietly sitting in his dressing room getting himself psyched for that
evening's show. In the short span of three years, Nine Inch Nails have
garnered a reputation as one of rock's most dynamic-- and unpredictable--
concert attractions, and Reznor knew that for the next two hours thousands
of eyes were gonna be watching his every move. "This tour is really helping
to establish Nine Inch Nails as one of the most exciting bands in the
world," a NIN spokesperson said. "I think after their Woodstock performance
so many more people realized what a great band this is. That was a very
historic show for them in many ways. Before that, there was a strong core
following who appreciated them, but the masses needed to be educated. All
of a sudden millions of people knew who Nine Inch Nails were. That show
really helped make this tour such a success."
While they didn't appear on stage dressed in the cloak of mud that served
as their Woodstock wardrobe, Nine Inch Nails' set was as lean, stark and
powerful as was that memorable show last August in upstate New York.
Relying on keyboards and prerecorded computer-generated tracks, as well as
on the tight musicianship of the band that surrounded him, Reznor
enthralled the house with his sinewy stage moves and gut-wrenching vocals.
Songs such as Closer and Pigs from their recent hit album The Downward
Spiral, were mixed with earlier material like Head Like A Hole to create an
intense and electrically-charged performance. For over 90 minutes Reznor
had the packed throng eating out of the palm of his hand, and they seemed
only too happy to worship at the Temple of Trent. "That was the greatest
show I've ever seen," one sweat-drenched fan said as he exited the arena at
show's end. "I've seen 'em all; Guns N' Roses, Metallica, Pearl Jam...you
name 'em, I've been there. Nobody else can create the kind of feelings that
Nine Inch Nail can. I'm honored to be here, that how strong I feel about
this band. I pity anyone who doesn't get the chance to see 'em live."
Writen by Sam Winters
Downloaded for Smashed Up Sanity by Tracy@JCU (Tracy Thompson) 9/29/97
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is provided courtesy Keith Duemling and Tracy Thompson from the collection previously
located at SUS.