LAS VEGAS: Last Saturday night in Sin City, the Axis Theater on the Strip became the stage for the first show on the NIN-Soundgarden Tour.
If you grew up in the 90’s and loved rock music, then Soundgarden and NIN albums (in my case, cassettes) were probably played over and over again on the sound system.
The year 2014 marks the 20th anniversary of Soundgarden’s Superunknown (“Fell on Black Days,” “Black Hole Sun.” “The Day I Tried to Live”) and Nine Inch Nails’ Downward Spiral (“Piggy,” “March of the Pigs,” “Closer,” “Reptile,” “Hurt”).
But lest anyone call this a nostalgia show—let’s not forget, Chris Cornell has been active with Audioslave and with his solo career. More recently, Soundgarden made the song for the Avengers movie and in 2012, they released their album King Animal.
Trent Reznor has been consistently been putting out NIN albums and making music for films with Atticus Ross—he actually won an Oscar for his work on The Social Network. And despite having called his 2009 tour Wave Goodbye, NIN Hesitation Marks then went back on the road in 2013.
Soundgarden went on first with Chris Cornell, Kim Thayil, Ben Sherman and sessionist Matt Chamberlain. Their drummer Matt Cameron is currently on tour with yet another 90’s powerhouse, Pearl Jam.
They played their the favorites from Superunknown as well as the ones from Bad Motor Finger—“Outshined,” “Rusty Cage” and “Jesus Christ Pose.”
In between that, Chris shared his observation on music saying, “When we started as a band almost 30 years ago, and we started writing songs that were a little bit moody and depressing to a lot of people, that somehow caught on and there was a whole generation of people that understood how we felt.
“Right now, dance music is really popular and people like to have fun when they listen to music and have a positive outlook. That’s great, but it doesn’t seem like the world is better.”
While Chris sounded amazing as ever, something seemed to have been bothering Ben Sherman towards the end. He threw his guitar on the stage, and pushed the roadie who tried to help him. After all that, he pushed his amps as well before he went off the stage.
And in as much I dig Kim Thayil’s guitars, he just started making this strange noise with his guitar at the end of the show, leaving it on top on an amp.
Comparisons are inevitable in a case like this. Even for a fan of both acts.
Trent Reznor arrived on the now bare stage alone. I thought—is he going to do a DJ set? All there was, was a stand with a single bulb and he was moving around in his black outfit, in front of a sequencer. But then he went into “Copy of A” from “Hesitation Marks” and then bit by bit, out came the other three members of the band—their silhouettes along with Trent’s projected onto these large video screen panels.
While the set consisted of the four men, seven large panels and their instruments (which they would switch around) there was constant movement, and light effects were gothic, industrial, futuristic and visually impressive.
The power and the intensity of Nine Inch Nails’ performance was palpable from all the way at the back where I was. They got the audience on its feet. Aside from the first song, they also did “Came Back Haunted” from the latest album.
They just kept pounding the crowd one song after the other and finishing strong with my personal favorite, “The Hand That Feeds,” and “Head Like a Hole.”
The encore, appropriately enough was “Hurt.”
This was my second time to see them (first one was at the Araneta Coliseum) and if I only could teleport myself to their upcoming shows (the tour runs until the end of August), I would. If only to get lost again in their music and the world in my head when I hear them.