Steve Dehaart and I went to the Nine Inch Nails (NIN) concert here in Portland last night. The concert was pretty intense. The effects were truly extraordinaire. There were several mesh-like screens that came down in front and back of various band members. The screens looked to be made up of LED’s or something similar were touch and position sensitive. At one point Trent was behind a screen that had nothing but static like you would see on an old TV not tuned to a station and as he came up closer to the screen, it would open a virtual hole in the static and the hole would follow him wherever he went on stage so that you could see him the whole time. Additional virtual holes would open up for additional band members as they came closer to the mesh. The mesh screens weren’t down the whole time. Sometimes they were lifted up and the stage was more wide open. The mesh projected a variety of visuals including smoke, clouds, flames, etc.
The mesh screen was used at one point to program a virtual drum machine for the song “Echoplex”*. A few rows of squares were on the screen with lights going down the rows and then repeating. One of the band members (I believe the drummer) came out on stage and started to touch the screen in certain places and when the lights went down the rows and where he selected the squares, there would be a corresponding kick drum, snare, etc from the drum machine. When the song was about over, the drummer came out again and slowly started to unselect the squares he had selected before.
There was a brief acoustical set that was kind of cool with again some neat visuals. The visuals made them look like they were standing out in a Louisiana bayou.
Of course Trent had to break a few instruments. At one point, he completely snapped the top part off of the neck of a guitar. The boy has some angst even to this day.
The concert was very engaging and kept a great mix of old and new songs, slow and fast tempo selections from their previous twenty years.
*According to the NIN site, this song and the associated album The Slip are and always will be a free download. I am just linking this song here to make it easier. Please go to NIN.com to sign up and download the whole album.