I can officially state, for the record, that Nine Inch Nails just might be the best live band out there these days.
This year I saw Mr. Reznor and co. twice, one at the Virgin Festival in Baltimore in August, and again in Charlottesville last month.
I've never been a huge NIN fan (which I'm working on correcting), but each time I've seen them I've been totally blown away. They're incredible live. As in, jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring, ass-kicking incredible. It's not just that the music sounds so perfect, which it most certainly does. It's more than that. When you go to an NIN show, you're getting a total concert experience. The Charlottesville show was especially elaborate, a bonanza of fancy lighting and unique stage settings. Nearly every couple of songs, the stage setup and lighting would be rejigged to totally chage things up. And when it comes to showmanship, there are few people out there who can match the intensity of Trent Reznor.
Honorable Mention: The Stooges, Dead Confederate, These United States, Die! Die! Die! the Verve, the National, the Black Angels, Fleet Foxes, Spiritualized, My Bloody Valentine, Brian Wilson
[Photo by Megan Petty]