Sunday, August 24, 2008

Nine Inch Nails and A Place To Bury Strangers at the Toyota Center

I boarded a flight from Oklahoma to Houston to continue my mini vacation of Nine Inch Nails and A Place To Bury Strangers. The Oklahoma show set the bar very high but was cleared as both bands put together phenomenal performances to a maximium capacity audience at the Toyota Center.

A Place To Bury Strangers

Jspace (Drums) pounded his kick drum for the opening of "Gimme Acid" as the guitar feedback started to swirl and build up in the background. The mix for A Place To Bury Strangers was dialed in and filled the Toyota Center. Jono Mofo (Bass) had his Gibson Thunderbird swimming in subsonic frequencies, as it is hard to believe three people could create such surgically precise noise. The evil surf guitar riff of "Deadbeat" is hypnotic as the guitar tones bounce back and forth between wire tight and eardrum shattering fuzz. I know I have mentioned that I have quite a stash of Death By Audio pedals in my collection of pedals but I really need to have Oliver make me an Armageddon which is a pedal containing a set of custom filters. Unfortunately, the popularity of A Place To Bury Strangers has prevented Oliver from taking custom orders. A Place To Bury Strangers will be back in October with the Dandy Warhols at the Wiltern.

Nine Inch Nails

The entire two hour performance of Nine Inch Nails has so many nuances and visual/auditory highlights that it warrants repeated viewings. I expected a similar setlist every night but was happy to have three different songs worked into the set.

Selections from The Slip started off the evening at a driving pace. "Letting You" served as a call to arms as the lights would simultaneously violently flare with the roaring synthesizer bass line. The Houston crowd was rowdy and ready for a long night of moshing and crowd surfing. Josh Freese (Drums) started to pound out the hi hat shuffle of "Discipline" as the Alessandro Cortini (Keyboards) triggered the dark synthesizer patch. Everyone went bonkers for "March Of The Pigs" as security had a difficult time managing all the crowd surfers. The crowd warmly received the transition of "The Frail" to "The Wretched" as I was expecting "Closer".

"Gave Up" is already a dramatically intense song but is taken to new heights with a bank of blaring red and blue lights that smothers the audience. I was still hoping for "The Great Destroyer" but couldn't complain when the electronic glitch of "The Warning" was played. "Vessel" also takes on a new life with various synth samples and beats surgically inserted into the song. Robin Finck (Guitars) donned his Danelectro baritone guitar for the deep rooted notes on "Ghosts 5". The song would later easily melt into xylophone heavy "Ghosts 6". "Ghosts 19" picks up the pace in the noise department as Trent would end the song with a solitary shaker that serves as a smooth transition to "Ghosts Piggy".

A large LED screen would drop as a live camera feed of a digitally distorted Trent Reznor was projected as he whispered the eerie vocals of "The Greater Good". One might think that it is prerecorded until you see Trent actually step out in front of the LED screen while one of the crew holds a video camera. "Wish" still sounds as vital as did when it was released back in the day. Robin went back to his guitar cab for a feedback drenched solo as his dreadlocks whipped around. I was in the seats for this particular show and really appreciated the visuals for "Terrible Lie" which projected the band in an outline of red on the large screens.

A short revisit to "Ghosts 31" which feature throbbing synthesizers and beehive swirling guitars as Justin had a Novation keyboard setup. "Only" conjured memories of Tron and the master control program with rapidly swirling visuals. "Head Like A Hole" brought the main set to a close as Trent sang the song without his Les Paul Guitar that he usually employs. "Echoplex" had a triple guitar attack from Justin, Trent and Robin that provided a wall of sound. "Reptile" was a sea of green crawling lights that upped the intensity level. An interesting visual of a gun morphed with a cross spoke volumes as Robin threw down an apocalyptic solo for "God Given". Houston was extremely quiet for "Hurt" and rivaled Oklahoma in respectful department. "In This Twilight" served as a spiritual cleansing to the catharsis of the whole evening as the visuals when from a scorched industrial demolished landscape to a rising sun. I wonder if there is any connection to this being an election year?

Nine Inch Nails setlist for the Toyota Center (8/16/2008)
"Letting you"
"March of the pigs"
"Head down"
"The Frail"
"The Wretched"
"Gave up"
"The Warning"
"Ghosts 5"
"Ghosts 6"
"Ghosts 19"
"Ghosts Piggy"
"The Greater Good"
"Terrible Lie"
"The Big Comedown"
"Ghosts 31"
"Head Like a Hole"

"God Given"
"In This Twilight"

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