The Forum used to be the home arena of the Los Angeles Lakers, but last Saturday, it hosted a very different type of drama: 500 invited guests in a largely empty building got to see the dress rehearsal for Nine Inch Nails' "Lights in the Sky" tour debuting tonight at the Pemberton Festival in British Columbia, and having its full opening show tomorrow in Seattle at the Key Arena. (Rock Daily will be live at both shows, so stay tuned for coverage).
Before the show, Trent Reznor came out in a gray hooded sweatshirt and addressed the crowd, explaining that they were trying out various material, so some parts of the show might not ultimately make it on tour, and that there might be some technical glitches: "Lots of things are going to happen that aren't, let's say, intentional." He concluded, "I'm going to go backstage and throw up, and then I'll see you guys."
The two-hour show was astonishing, covering a wide range of Nine Inch Nails' material, from "Head Like a Hole" through new songs from The Slip and instrumental pieces from Ghosts, which Reznor had never planned to play live. About a third of the way through the concert, Reznor deployed some video screens, but not to enlarge his face for the cheap seats: sometimes the band played in front of a desert backdrop, sometimes the screens responded to the music with colored bubbles (like Guitar Hero in reverse), sometimes the musicians vanished behind a wall of static.
"On stage, it's very easy to tell when you lose people's attention," Reznor told RS later. "Generally at a rock show, the sound is not that great, and the guy next to me is an asshole and I have to pee and okay, that's what these guys look like and that's what's going to happen for the next couple of hours. The world has gotten pretty lazy. It's easy to go out and do a safe show that is all about guys just rocking. I say, 'Fuck all that.'"
Check out the set list from the July 19 rehearsal below, which will probably change. As Reznor put it, "I think too much about this shit."
Nine Inch Nails rehearsal setlist:
"March of the Pigs"
"The Frail/The Wretched"
"The Great Destroyer"
"The Big Come Down"
"The Hand That Feeds"
"Head Like A Hole"
"The Beginning Of The End"
"The Good Soldier"