Nine Inch Nails Pounds Raw, Horrifying, Intense Rock

By Jim Minge for Omaha World-Herald on September 1, 1994

A carnival of pierced navels, noses, nipples, lips and tongues, and the angst-ridden music of Nine Inch Nails provided a piercing night of entertainment for an audience of 4,764 at the City Auditorium Arena Monday night.

The Jim Rose Circus, a modern-day freak show, opened the show. Amoung the bizarre acts: a man who balanced a running lawn mower on his chin while assistants threw heads of lettuce into the spinning blade; and "rubber man," who squeezed his body through a tennis racket's head.

During the lull between acts, on the crowded general admission arena floor, fans "crowd surfed" - their bodies passed over the heads of the crowd.

The Jim Rose Circus and Nine Inch Nails had the pleasure of christening the arena's new division curtain. The curtain, which limits the seating for smaller events, gives the concert-event coordinator the option of customizing the size of an event.

Monday's show was sectioned off to allow 5,000 potential spectators.

Nine Inch Nails' show began with a placid tone. The band opened with the haunting title track from its latest album, "The Downward Spiral."

That semi-serene moment lasted for just that - a moment - before an eruption of shrieking wails and distorted guitars burst from the stage, setting off a verbal explosion from the fervent crowd. Call the music "alternative," call it "industrial" or "heavy metal-disco" - it makes no difference. Simply put, Monday's display was rock 'n' roll in its rawest, most horrifying and intense form.

It was perhaps five seconds into the next song, "Mr. Self Destruct" from "The Downward Spiral" album, before the mass of bodies on the arena floor began a giant, collective "mosh pit," which is sort of the human version of demolition derby.

Arms flailed in whirling dervish fashion among a massive cloud of bluish-purple smoke that poured into the audience as lead singer-songwriter Trent Reznor and his band charged into "Piggy."

As Scene 1 of the Nine Inch Nails show came to an end, Reznor demolished a keyboard and chucked bottles of water into the outreached arms of the audience before collapsing on the stage.

This band of collected anger called Nine Inch Nails has steadily become one of America's hottest tickets, reaching its highest peak of popularity after a backstage mud fight at Woodstock '94.

But the band began its climb to the top in 1989 when electronic whiz Reznor created Nine Inch Nails on his computers and other assorted gadgets. The first album was "Pretty Hate Machine," which sold a million copies despite the fact that it was released on an independent label - a worthy feat.

Minutes later, as Scene 2 began, a short film full of human and natural destruction played on the stage's closed curtain while the band raged on.

Transcribed by Keith Duemling

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