Nails Singer Loved Omaha

Originally published in Omaha World-Herald on September 1, 1994

Trent Reznor, the creative force behind Nine Inch Nails, vowed to return to Omaha after Monday night's concert at the City Auditorium Arena.

"Totally unexpected. Great," Reznor said after the show. "I'd come back a thousand times."

Reznor said he was impressed by the audience of 4,764, which danced, moshed, thrashed and screamed as if Nine Inch Nails were the last band on Earth. The rambunctious behavior stirred Reznor's performance juices to the tune of four - yes, four! - encores.

"Tonight we felt compelled because we owed the audience," said Reznor, the soft-spoken singer-songwriter-studio whiz, as he signed autographs in the arena parking lot. "The tour is going pretty well, but tonight was cool because the crowd was cool."

Right from the show's opening note, Trcia Herrley of Omaha said, she realized Nine Inch Nails' appearance was destined to be special. She said that she, too, noticed how cool the crowd was.

"I think he likes the feedback from the audience because it gives him assurance that he's doing OK," said Miss Herrley, who along with close friend Angela Thornton had traveled to see three other Nine Inch Nails shows during the last two weeks. "When the first song started, you could tell it was going to be a good show. In St. Louis (Sept. 11), they didn't do an encore and they (band members) were really mad."

Miss Herrley and Miss Thornton also saw the Nails in Chicago (Sept. 3) and in St. Paul, Minn. (Sept 5). The Omaha performance was the best among the four, Miss Herrley said. She said the show's general admission policy and the 5,000 seating capacity (made possible by the arena's new ,000 division curtain) made a difference.

"The size of the auditoriums in the other places were a lot larger, and they only allowed a certain amount of people on the floor," Miss Herrley said. "At the Fox Theater in St. Louis, everyone was seated and the crowd was totally dead."

But the Omaha crowd was alive and well, and so was Reznor. During the first two songs performed, "The Downward Spiral" and "Mr. Self Destruct," Reznor knocked down guitarist Robin Finck, tossed the microphone stand and pounded himself on hte head with the mike.

More hell-bent fury and sardonic lyrics from songs such as "Closer" and "Hurt" led to Reznor's encore presentation.

Said Miss Thornton: "Most people want to dance and move around, and that's why the floor was so packed (in Omaha). You could see all the energy, which gets a better performance out of the band."

"He loved the crowd," said Sean Beavan, Reznor's sound mixing and studio engineer. "The crowd was great, excited and very loud. It was insanity, and the moshing really makes Trent happy. He told me this was the best crowd he's had, and it was the first time he's done four encores."

Party Goes On After Curtain Descends

Reznor, whose most recent body of work was producing the soundtrack to the movie "Natural Born Killers," emerged from the tour bus at 1:15 a.m., some two hours after the show. The cordial rocker signed autographs and chatted with about 40 who had waited patiently outside. The Nine Inch Nails sound - a haunting marriage of industrial and dance pop - essentially is Reznor's studio magic. To recreate that sound live, Beavan said, the show's mixing board requires 56 imputs of information, including instruments, synthesizers and samples. At one point, drummer Chris Venna not only plays his drum set, he also creates the sound of six kick drums by using triggers at his feet. And Beavan gets into the act by singing background vocals on five songs while operating the sound board at the opposite end of the auditorium. Members of the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow, Monday's opening act, mingled with the crowd during the Nails' performance, but it was hard to differentiate between the circus freaks and ticket-buying freaks, most of whom sported tattoos and pierced body parts. "I'm a freak, and that's not a bad thing," said one sideshow performer who goes by the name of Justinian, "The Armenian Rubber Man," who is able to slip his body through the head of a tennis racket. He explained his trick as being the result of Ehlers-Danlos, a genetic disorder of the elastic connective tissue.

Transcribed by Keith Duemling

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