Tuesday, November 20

King


King

of the Pigs

By Michael Horowitz

Daily Senior Bruin Staff

The Nine Inch Nails "Self-Destruct Tour" is back in town and it
hasn’t lost much intensity or emotion. Tuesday’s show at the
Universal Amphitheatre wasn’t the intimate clusterfuck of cult fans
that filled the Palace, but the tight set, mood-enhancing
theatrics, and still-impressive staging allowed the Nails to affect
thousands more.

Trent Reznor is on the verge of being heinously over-publicized.
His much-celebrated mudbath at Woodstock and his brilliant "NBK"
soundtrack have generated him plenty of press; he’s now suffering
genre and generational idolatry. So what’s a self-loathing,
society-hating musician to do?

Well for starters he can shock the KIIS-FM fools who showed up
because they’ve memorized "Closer." He can rock harder than the
KROQ junkies who pressed redial until they bled. And he can give
his all to the faithful.

Cool Trent moments: fucking his guitarist’s face, smashing his
bassist to the floor and throwing water bottles at anything that
breathed.

Annoying "Mr. Anger" moments: the self-parodying, arena-rock
lightshow, an annoying video-screen reminiscent of UCLA
construction and a setlist that was built more for fan recognition
than emotional structure.

As Reznor leaves any semblance of underground status, there are
questions that need to be addressed. Like, what’s with that
bottomless rage thing? And, does he attack roadies because he’s
suffering artistic angst or is he just a malicious dick who knows
how to put on a good show? Or, several more notches down the
disappointing ladder, is it choreographed like professional
wrestling?

There’s a lot of evidence in all directions. To support the
Three Physical Outbursts Per Show Model, Trent did smile a whole
lot. He does freak out in every show, and the intensity level is
almost too perfect to be anything but managed. On other hand, some
of his actions are completely belligerent and sometimes go unseen.
After the fourth song on Tuesday night he went backstage and hurled
a water bottle into a roadie’s gut from only a yard out. It
couldn’t have been for effect.

At a certain point this debate leaves the realm of
intellectualism. A probable compromise is that Reznor onstage is
simply a spoiled intensely-dramatic lightning rod. If he wants to
smack his set-up crew with a microphone stand, he does, because all
they can do is set it up again for him. He’s not solely motivated
by Spinal Tap theatrics, but he’s at least aware that he’s fun to
watch.

Overall song selection was interesting in this second leg of the
tour. While he ignored a lot of great tracks from "Pretty Hate
Machine," his finally has started to play "Ruiner" and "Piggy," two
new selections that work well live. And one could almost justify
Nails playing a seated arena and ending with a slow song by the
lush version of "Something I Can Never Have."

The crowd … sucked! Apparently on Monday night there was
moshing in the aisles to the point of a security risk. Tuesday,
people had lighters, they clapped along to "Hurt" and the
excitement level dipped below pathetic several times. Further
enhancing the general sense of misanthropy among NIN faithful was
the crowd’s reaction to Reznor’s comment: "You’re a polite crowd!"
They cheered.

If the biggest Nails fans bought tickets to Monday night and the
second-best fans purchased Tuesday seats, fans going to either
Thursday or Friday nights’ performance will have to endure the
quietest, most serene crowd since the Pebble Beach Golf Tournament.
And no one wants Reznor and friends to be simply par.

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