Nine Inch Nails Spread Theatrics On Thick in Chicago

Reznor and Co. impress the UIC Pavilion

June 8, 2000
Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails
Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails
Al Pereira/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

UIC Pavilion
April 21st, 2000
Chicago, IL

Desperation is never far behind Trent Reznor, even when he dips outside the Nine Inch Nails songbook. "How does it feeeel?" Reznor screamed during the chorus of a decade-old Pigface song. "Suck! Suck! Suck!" came his band's response.

Nine Inch Nails still pound spikes of doom with the best of the aggro bands, but this night found Reznor exploring the more vulnerable side of his psyche as well. While "Head Like a Hole" and "Starfuckers, Inc." (dedicated not so cryptically to "an ex-friend") danced the machine-metal jig, even more impressive was how the quintet dared to chase a quieter brand of catharsis. Delicate mood pieces such as "The Frail," with Reznor in Brian Eno mode at the keyboards, broke up the siege, and a melancholy instrumental, "La Mer," bled into the majestic elegy "The Great Below."

It was great theater, with Reznor and company dressed like post-apocalyptic marauders and bathed in dramatic white lighting, codesigned by Pink Floyd collaborator Mark Brickman. The band blurred distinctions between "real" instruments and electronoise; Robin Finck conjured what sounded like radio static and brittle harpsichords from his guitar, while Danny Lohner and Charlie Clouser extracted little symphonies for the misbegotten from their keyboards. Drummer Jerome Dillon made it all sound almost funky, particularly the coda to "Closer"; his tom-heavy backdrop turned the relatively hushed "Hurt" into a devastating finale. Reznor wore his vulnerability with conviction: "If I could start again . . . I would find a way." Just goes to show, trench-coat nihilists have feelings too.

This story is from the June 8th, 2000 issue of Rolling Stone.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Long Walk Home”

Bruce Springsteen | 2007

When the subject of this mournful song returns home, he hardly recognizes his town. Springsteen told Rolling Stone the alienation the man feels is a metaphor for life in a politically altered post-9/11 America. “Who would have ever thought we’d live in a country without habeas corpus?” he said. “That’s Orwellian. That’s what political hysteria is about and how effective it is. I felt it in myself. You get frightened for your family, for your home. And you realize how countries can move way off course, very far from democratic ideals.”

More Song Stories entries »