Nine Inch Nails: Live Experience (Spoiler Alert)

This post is sponsored by Personalized By Kate.


Over the years I have watched a great amount of digital Nine Inch Nails live performances. However, it was Aerodrome Festival 2018 that completed my opinion of the band to its full extent. Being an audience member helped me to notice some things that have never got to my attention before. It gave me the ability to sum everything up, formulate and report how the most precise description of how these industrial veterans run their shows these days.


According to the songs and their order continue to change every night. They almost regularly play at least one song from each LP from their discography. All the way from Pretty Hate Machine to their late 6 track EP Bad Witch. This release served as the main reason for the band’s touring this year. And averagely they play three songs from this very industrial record.

David Bowie’s “I’m Afraid of Americans” is not the only song that makes things extra-special this time… Recently they started to make unusual adjustments to their program. And here’s what they’ve done in September of 2018:

For the first time in 5 years, they played famous Joy Divison cover “Dead Sous.

For the first time in 23 years, they played their legendary “Happiness In Slavery.” It was also the first time they’ve played their entire ground-breaking EP Broken.

And for the first time in 4.6 billion years they played their hit “The Perfect Drug.”

These unusual type of surprises is one of the main factors that makes NIN’s shows intriguing. And therefore,  more interesting to attend and be present at.


The band members of Nine Inch Nails are professionals who love to fulfill their musical duties. No one messes up their parts, as no one’s ego gets in the way of their playing. The Alessandro Cortini has a drum raiser with a couple of synths. Whether his bass is loud or quiet he doesn’t miss a single note.

Ilan Rubin spends most of the show behind his drum-kit. But he also plays keyboard when the song requires some additional effects. Co-producer and main keyboardist Atticus Ross concentrates on his piano, industrial parts, and glitches so much, that he almost never looks in the crowd. Despite loud cheerful reactions of the crowd lead guitarist Robin Finck, for some reason, he always remains a tremendous level of melancholy while playing his Gibson. And while playing he goes nuts almost as much as the main character.


Trent was allover the sage. He sang, played guitar, switched to keyboards and energized everyone with his peculiar and memorable behavior. Despite his musical abilities, his performance at Aerodrome Fest also included some specific details. The things that were probably were unnoticed by most of the audience. And for that reason, they are worth highlighting.


Trent was one of the very, very few performers whose act had nothing to do with completely unrelated to music topics. Unlike majority of artists of the festival I’ve seen that day, Trent didn’t brag about how much he hates Trump. He didn’t impose the necessity of social justice. He didn’t bother with any of those popular topics that are so easily transform into a round of applause nowadays. He had only one verbal lyrical digression for his fans. The message was short and simple. Trent said literally the following: “So great to be here… I’d love to talk to you guys, but we have only so much time.” Which can be interpreted nothing as “music first things first.” Which is the ultimate example of true professionalism and dedication to his work.


There was one thing that I have never noticed in any videos of NIN concerts. At some point, during not heavy, almost poppy and yet aggressive part, Trent was standing next to his mic-stand. He was moving in his own rhythmic style and to my big surprise, I saw something that didn’t fit into an image of a dark industrial rock band at all. He was smiling! It was a sly smile of mutual joy. Like as if he was reacting to watching a video where he was giving a birthday present to his friend. That smirk showed that instead of battling some mental procedure he was healthily having fun. It showed that those depressive years of catharsis are way behind and he got his things under control. And shortly after that fleeting positive moment, he would scornfully swayed his synths and threw the mic-stand as some recovered vandal. As a better person who breaks a microcircuit that contains a harmful information for the environment.


The group that rarely get a credit for their work are the people behind the band. Sound engineers, musical instrument technicians, and visual effect specialist. All those Nine Inch Nails workers are good at doing their job collectively. The sound was ideal. It was clear as day that Trent is a complete sound paranoid. In addition, he also has the same low level of tolerance to an “okay” visual effects. Lasers and lights of the show were powerful and indeed appropriate. Every show the band also has their own cameraman. He films the musical process from the stage. The footage translates to the monitors and the audience gets a chance to look at musicians from alternative angles. It distinguishes band from other acts, as usually everyone is getting filmed by a camera crew of the festivals. But not Nine Inch Nails, who do it their own way.


There’s always plenty of people who know the lyrics to every song.  Thundering cheers of the audience were happening after every song. Nevertheless, there are always some people who make noise when it is not appropriate. The biggest compliment that you can receive as a performer is a total silence during your performance. But apparently, not everyone is aware of that. For instance, there’s always some idiot who starts screaming during instrumental pre-chorus of “Hurt” and some part of the people decides to join him. You can never get through this song live without hearing these annoying and unintentionally disrespectful screams. And for the last years, there has been a redundant verbal addition to this stupid tradition. Today during every performance of this song you will hear a specific knucklehead in the crowd. You will hear the effect of alcohol in his voice that will mix of strong notes of ass kissing. Right after the line “I am still right here” that “caring” person will shout “YEAH, YOU ARE TREEENT!” By the way, if you do want to scream something to Trent, note that to a certain degree it is a risky move. As Trent’s feelings can be damaged by these shout-outs and may lead to an early end of the song.


Whether you are a Nine Inch Nails fan or not, the amount and the quality of work that the band has done over the years is enough to place bets on their inevitable Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. If you want to formulate a complete opinion on current abilities and potential of this band there’s only one last thing left for you to do.


There is no video, article, review, interview or conversation that will make you experience it better than your presence at the live show. Tickets to their shows are continue to sell out. So if you want to fairly estimate the band by yourself or witness them playing some of their own rare songs for the first time, you might still catch them on their tour.  That is the only way you can make sure that Nine Inch Nails is one hell of the proficient, entertaining, mesmerizing and clearly not overrated live band.

Author Bio:

Zack Hargrove is an editor-in-chief at One of his missions is to notice interesting, unusual phenomenon and tendencies and reporting them to a diverse scope of audience. He enjoys writing pretty much about everything. Especially about music and science.

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