I saw Nine Inch Nails for the second time last night, the first time in an arena setting. I wasn't especially pumped. I love a few NIN songs and appreciate many more, but I haven't really been following them lately and the Kool Haus show I saw a few years back (despite my relatively enthusiastic review) was nowhere near mindblowing. Not that I didn't want to go, but $80 seemed a bit expensive for a night out with a good friend. The openers from Georgia, whose name I failed to catch, didn't do much to increase my excitement.
Apparently it doesn't take that much to captivate me if you've got the right tools: a few synths and samplers, digital projection, computer graphics, fancy lights, good songs, and a strong performance. The integration of lights, graphics and music was beyond remarkable. It was also ultra-contemporary (and I'm sure, very expensive), making old school light and stage shows look just plain lame. At times the effects were subtle, creating space for the band to literally take the spotlight and rock out. Other songs pushed synthesized sound and digital image to the foreground, presenting Nine Inch Nails as an artistic entity rather than a man and his hired musical guns. Some of these pictures from the appropriately named Lights In the Sky: Over North America tour should give you an idea what this all looked like. If only you could see how well these visuals meshed with what I heard...
(I think I need to re-evaluate my knowledge of NIN. Reznor's recent activities in free music offerings only underline that even further.)
Since I'm talking about technology and music (and free music) it seems like a good time to bring up some recent D-Trash Records activities. [actually, it seems like a good opportunity to talk about Death to Music Productions as well, but I'll save that for another day] Keith Carman beat me to the punch reviewing Matamachete for exclaim!; while I take issue with his slur against Mindless Self Indulgence, I support his appreciation for Tanin No Kao. I also recommend checking out some D-Trash artist videos and investing in the label's first DVD compilation.