Pound and Pounder

By Alice Berry for Creative Loafing Magazine on September 1, 1996

The only people who might have had more fun than the audience at last week's Nine Inch Nails show were the band and crew members themselves.

It's not often that a band who's "made it big" gets the chance to sneak out of the arena and into a club for a night, and this was a spur-of-the-moment decision, a pit stop on the way home from the group's CMJ appearance at Irving Plaza in New York City. It was a NIN fan's dream that could just as easily have turned into a nightmare had scalpers, technical glitches or huffy divas plagued its production.

However, last Sunday's show at Masquerade avoided all these problems through a ticket voucher system (although fans who showed up at 10 a.m. Friday morning had to wait in line at the club with ID, fill out vouchers to be signed and stamped then signed again by the club, it kept the ticket price to the original ), a skilled crew and great attitudes. Of course, it wasn't exactly the lineup the audience might have expected: Replacing guitarist Robin Finck (who ran away to join Cirque Du Soleil, no lie) was Prick frontman/Trent doppleganger Kevin McMahon,and Clint Mansell, a.k.a. "Vestan Pance" from Birmingham, England's Pop Will Eat Itself, was another special guest.

The band opened their 13-song set at the Masquerade with the first of five songs from Pretty Hate Machine, the forceful opener "Terrible Lie." Next came "March of the Pigs," "Sanctified," "Suck," "Wish"(featuring the epileptic's nightmare -- lots of strobe) and "Down In It." Then Trent Reznor's party really kicked in. McMahon sang on two Prick songs, "Animal" (the only 'animal song of the night,unfortunately, leaving "I want to [f--k] you like an animal"fans without a sing-along) and "Tough." The karaoke party continued as Mansell sang and danced his way through two of his songs, "RSVP"and "Wise Up, Sucker." And this was the final Nail in the coffin for anyone who thought they had come to participate in a Night of Hate.It was just too much fun for that. Even industrial music's angry poster boy himself was spotted with something resembling a smile on his gleaming white face as he sang backing vocals for his invited pals.

For the final song of the set, Reznor took back the lead, but "Head Like a Hole" retained the gang vocal, boys-down-at-the-pub feel that was closer to 999 or Sham 69 than NIN. The jiffy mosh pit was thrilled, singing along with every word. The last chance to end the evening on a somber note -- the first song of the encore, "Something," with its longing "I just want something I can never have" chorus -- vanished with the last song of the night,a cover of Joy Division's "Dead Souls."Not even this reminder of the patron saint of Goth could dim the band's exuberance: NIN's version was downright rowdy.

Opening band 17 Years' early 80s-flavored punk proved to be a surprisingly appropriate choice. After opening for the Cure on Friday night, they'd originally planned to hold their CD release party that afternoon, but it didn't take much arm-twisting to get them to take on the NIN show. The tandem lead vocal formula worked well; it was a particular treat to find guitarist Lara Kiang's singing to be as strong as the band's sound.

Transcribed by Keith Duemling

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