To say I was stoked to see a killer double bill like Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden would be understating the excitement I had going into this show – and believe me, I walked away a mostly happy camper. I say “mostly” because of an incident that happened at the show and not because the bands were bad. They were both awesome. I’d like to thank HMV for hooking me up with box seats – I had won one of their “Golden Ticket” giveaways which turned my single lawn seat into a pair of box seats. It was much more enjoyable from the box.
Soundgarden opened the show and from the first note just tore everyone a new asshole. I was skeptical of drummer Matt Cameron not being there, but right off the bat I must say Matt Chamberlain filled in fantastically. I mean, fuck, the guys played for people like Peter Gabriel and Tori Amos. He HAS to be good. And he was. Chris Cornell’s vocals, for a guy who’s not too young anymore, were AMAZING. That boy can SING. Ben Sheppard is hilarious to watch – he looks like he’s somewhere between a spiritual awakening and bored but never misses a note, holding down that heavy bottom end. And Kim – that guy is easily one of the most underrated guitarists around. It was a fact proven over and over throughout the set, every time he tore through the center of my skull with an attacking guitar solo that only he can produce. They opened with “Searching with my Good Eyes Closed” with authority and followed it up with the almighty “Spoonman”. Everyone basically lost it, and for good reason. The assault continued with “Flower” and “Outshined”, but it just kept coming. “Black Hole Sun” was next, an obvious crowd pleaser. Everyone sang along. They literally just kept playing the songs everyone wanted to hear: “Jesus Christ Pose”, “The Day I Tried To Live”, “My Wave”, “Superunknown” – it was like a Gatling gun of grunge insanity. They then busted into “Blow Up the Outside World”, a perfect song for me at that exact moment. “Fell on Black Days” and “A Thousand Days Before” were rocking, and when Chris Cornell referenced Johnny Cash before the next number, we all knew what was coming. THE SONG. “Rusty Cage”. What an awesome tune. They just killed it. They closed their set with “Beyond the Wheel”, one of the heaviest hitting tunes around. It was the second time seeing Chris and the gang, and I must say they are 2 for 2 in my books.
At this point, it started raining really hard and people were pretty soaked but they didn’t seem to care much. They were there to see Trent and his Nine Inch Nails and I suspect they would’t give a shit if the entire world was on fire. There’s one thing I can say: Nine Inch Nails fans are among some of the loyalest fans around, and I was about to find out why. Trent came out alone and started “Copy of A” with the band joining him a bit later in the song. It was pretty powerful to see, and the musicianship was at a high level from the start. The light show dazzled as the band ran through cuts like “Sanctified”, “Came Back Haunted” and “1,000,000” before busting into the swine part of the set with “March of the Pigs” and “Piggy”. The lightning blasted overhead and the rain poured down in an almost dramatic fashion, only enhancing the experience and intensity of the program. The broadcast continued with “Terrible Lie”, the fan favorite “Closer” and “Gave Up”.
It was around this point where I finally talked to the guy in front of me and his lovely girlfriend, who had been standing and blocking my view for several songs. I asked them politely several times to go down to the floor if they wanted to stand, but they responded with threatening behavior, swearing at me and telling me to “get security”. I told them to go fuck themselves, and went to the back wall to watch the rest of the show. It was actually more enjoyable there anyways. The dude looked like a cross between Mickey Rourke from “The Wrestler” and 80’s WWF superstar Curt Henning aka Mr. Perfect. His girlfriend was a total pig, also.
Anyways, back to the show. The classic NIN kept flowing with cuts like “Me, I’m Not”, “Find My Way”, “The Great Destroyer” and “Eraser”. It really was a mixed set of goodies that kept on pleasing the hordes of Trent supporters. The rain got heavier and the lighting crashed as he ripped into the final few songs of the set including “Wish” , “Only”, “The Hand That Feeds” and my personal favorite “Head Like a Hole”. The band left the stage, but quickly returned to do one final song: “Hurt”. It was the second song of the evening that was once covered by Johnny Cash, and was a powerful way to end such a great show. As the song ended a MASSIVE bolt of lightning lit up the sky in perfect timing with the performance.
All in all, both bands were great and I suggest digging into their tunes and catching them live if you ever have the chance. Molson Ampitheatre also remains my favorite venue to see concerts.