Nine Inch Nails | 08.07.08 | Connecticut

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Words by: Andrew Bruss | Images by: Dave Vann

Nine Inch Nails :: 08.07.08 :: Mohegan Sun Casino :: Uncasville, CT

Nine Inch Nails
Nine Inch Nails‘ spectacle of a performance at Mohegan Sun Casino was a sensory overload that truly had to have been seen to be believed. For nearly twenty years, every Nine Inch Nails tour Trent Reznor has embarked on has gradually raised the bar on the production values. 2005’s With Teeth tour was a multifaceted experience that left many a fan with their jaw dropped open, and this summer’s Lights In The Sky tour mesmerized and intrigued by utilizing some of the same progressive performance ideals that made Pink Floyd such a legendary draw in their day.

Reznor and his band started the night off with “999,999,” and “1,000,000,” the first two tracks off his 2008 release, The Slip. He moved the set forward with a few tunes off his more recent discography before playing both “March of the Pigs” and his 1994 hit “Closer.” As fans went wild over the performance, Reznor continually drew them in even deeper with a congenitally charismatic stage presence that simply filled the venue. Whether it was at the mic, the keyboard or with a guitar, Reznor consistently romped around the stage, never stopping, as he drove the performance forward with his music, as well as his persona.

As the set progressed, the performance began to feel segregated into several mini-sets, distinguishable by stage setup. For the first quarter of the show, Reznor and his backing band utilized an array of lights and special effects but were sticking to a more conventional stage setup that had a guitarist, a bassist, a drummer and multiple synth stations. However, during the start of “The Warning,” a massive double-sided screen, was lowered from the ceiling, as Reznor and two other musicians each took hold of a synthesizer. Reznor and his cohorts played “The Great Destroyer” off 2007’s Year Zero, in front of the now-blood-red screen, each with a keyboard in front of them, bringing to mind the multi-synth techniques of German Krautrock-pioneers, Kraftwerk.

Nine Inch Nails
The group continued to drive through Reznor’s tunes while different stage productions kept the crowd guessing. Towards the end of the set, Nine Inch Nails found itself behind the veil of the massive, double-sided screen, which had been lowered to the foot of the stage. For the last chunk of the main set, they played behind the screen, as they visually penetrated through the projections on the other side. Reznor would walk across the stage, and the visual-static would literally part wherever he went.

While Reznor used the stage itself as a prop, he drove the crowd wild with an onslaught of his most popular tunes, such as “Terrible Lie” and “Survivalism,” followed by a set-closing one-two punch of “The Hand That Feeds” followed by the ever popular “Head Like A Hole.”

As the screen sat at the foot of the stage with “NIN” glowing in towering red letters, fans cheered and chanted for an encore. Reznor and company returned to perform “Echoplex,” which featured Reznor toying with a drum sequencer that was projected against the back of the stage. He hit different squares on the large display, effectively changing the sequence of the beat that was currently thumping. After he got bored of using the stage as a drum-machine, he followed up with “The Good Soldier” before bringing the night to an emotionally gripping close of “Hurt” and “In This Twilight.”

Although the show was slightly undersold, largely due to the fact that Reznor was scheduled to play at an arena twice the Sun’s size an hour north the following night, Reznor rocked the stadium and showed everyone in attendance a full force, multimedia experience they’ll likely never forget. Trent Reznor is one of the “freer thinkers” in the music industry, and his performance was the proof in the pudding. After releasing The Slip for free online, simply stating, “This one’s on me,” turning the albums supporting tour into an unconventional cluster fuck of an audio/visual display was the logical next step and it was a bonafide success.

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