Nine Inch Nails is just scratching the surface
Nine Inch Nails will be launching its first full-scale U.S. tour since 2014 this fall, but before that, Las Vegas audiences will be the only ones in America to get to see the band live, with three packed shows this week. The industrial rock band has become known for its elaborate stage shows, but NIN’s previous Vegas show in October, which was also an exclusive performance, was a more subdued affair, without the extensive set design and mind-blowing visuals that have accompanied the last several NIN tours. Chances are this week’s shows will be similarly pared-down, although with a European tour set to start the following week, it’s also possible that Vegas will get a sneak peek of the band’s latest groundbreaking stage setup. Either way, it’s sure to be an immersive experience, thanks to the band’s intricate, multilayered music, performed by NIN mastermind Trent Reznor and his collaborators. That includes Reznor’s current creative partner Atticus Ross, who in 2016 was named the first permanent NIN member aside from Reznor. Joining Reznor and Ross are veteran NIN touring musicians Robin Finck, Alessandro Cortini and Ilan Rubin. All five play multiple instruments, contributing to NIN’s varied sound with a mix of electronics and live instrumentation.
With an experimental yet accessible sound that appeals equally to metalheads and goths, the band’s hits go back to 1989 debut album Pretty Hate Machine, with singles “Head Like a Hole,” “Terrible Lie” and “Down In It.” NIN’s second album, the massively popular The Downward Spiral, spawned ’90s radio favorites “Closer,” “March of the Pigs” and “Hurt,” which was famously covered by Johnny Cash on his final studio album in 2002. Cash’s haunting acoustic take on the song brought a whole new audience to NIN, practically eclipsing the original (it isn’t uncommon for listeners, and even some journalists, to mistake the NIN version for a cover).
Although NIN is closely associated with the ’90s alt-rock boom, the sound has never been tied to a particular era or movement, and Reznor has continued producing hits over the years, from “The Hand That Feeds” to “Survivalism” to “Came Back Haunted.” NIN’s newest release is Bad Witch, the third in a trilogy of EPs that includes Not the Actual Events and Add Violence. Bad Witch will be officially released a few days after the band’s Vegas shows, but the moody and atmospheric single “God Break Down the Door” (featuring Reznor showing off his saxophone skills) is out now, and the band may debut a few more songs during this week’s concerts.
The conclusion of the EP trilogy took longer than expected, but Reznor told BBC Radio recently that it was all about getting things right. “The reason this has been delayed is because it took us a while for—what has become the third EP—to reveal itself to us,” he said. As with everything NIN does, Bad Witch and these new shows are handled with care and precision.
Hard Rock Hotel, 8 p.m. June 13 & 15-16, starting at $79.50 plus tax and fee. 888.929.7849 AXS