Nine Inch Nails headlined the second night of Made In America, filling the “rock legend” slot occupied by Pearl Jam at last year’s festival. As with Pearl Jam, many fans showed up mainly to see the headliner, and others left before their set. Like Public Enemy, who played the Rocky stage the prior day, NIN do not fit into the #YOLO vibe, which means that a good amount of the audience don’t know what to do with their music. Are girls expected to grind? Should guys twirl their t-shirts over their heads? There’s no question that it’s a much different era from the one when Trent Reznor and crew leveled the stage at Woodstock ’94 and had their zeitgeist moment.
Reznor opening NIN’s Made In America 2013 set. (Radio.com)
Trent Reznor at Made In America 2013 (Radio.com)
Reznor opened the show, unaccompanied, on a sampler – a reference to the beginning of Talking Heads’ concert film Stop Making Sense, (a reference which may have been lost on much of the audience). He started with the new song “Copy Of A,” singing “I am just a shadow of a shadow of a shadow/always trying to catch up with myself.” And that seemed like an odd choice to open a show featuring acts that were less than half of Reznor’s age. But he’s always been overly tough on himself (a characteristic that has inspired album after album of brilliance), and to be fair, he played with more rage and fury than any other performer over the weekend, with the possible exception of Public Enemy’s Chuck D.
PHOTO GALLERY: Made In America 2013
The thing is, “rage and fury” aren’t really “a thing” in popular music circa 2013; on the other hand, Nine Inch Nails was never built to fit in to the pop charts. The mid-90s seem like an anomaly all these decades later. Repelling people while transfixing a solid and sizable audience? That’s what they’ve always been about, and that’s what happened Sunday night at Made In America. NIN’s scorched earth versions of classics like “March Of The Pigs,” “Terrible Lie,” “Wish” and “Head Like A Hole,” surely repelled much of the audience, but thousands more were rapt throughout the entire performance, which closed with “Hurt.” — Brian Ives
QUEEENS OF THE STONE AGE: ‘BREAK THE RULES, BUT DON’T HURT ANYONE!’
He may be a member of a band called Eagles Of Death Metal, but that doesn’t mean that Queens Of The Stone Age frontman Josh Homme isn’t a nice guy. Early in the set he announced, “Philly, it’s goddamn good to see ya! Let’s keep sweating together!” And while the hot day was beginning to cool down (temperatures passed the 90s for much of the afternoon) the Queens worked the crowd and themselves into a healthy sweat. Opening with “My God Is The Sun” from their current album …Like Clockwork (which recently topped the Billboard Album Chart), they played material from their entire career, and the dedicated audience members knew every song. As with Nine Inch Nails, they didn’t really fit in with the party vibe of the festival, but still went over well with those who hadn’t left to grab a good spot for Calvin Harris. Homme observed, “There’s lots of rules here! We know how to have fun and respect each other. Let’s put those rules in our back pocket and get s***-faced!” Sadly, he soon saw why some rules are necessary, when some unruly fans caused him to call them out from the stage during “Make It Wit Chu,” yelling, “Where do you think you are? Your parents’ house?” The Queens’ blend of black-light ’70s metal and ’80s hardcore punk was a throwback (kind of like NIN) to the Lollapalooza tours of the ’90s, but also provided a guitar-filled contrast to the hip-hop, EDM, R&B and pop music of the day. – B.I.
ARTIST TO WATCH: ALUNAGEORGE There’s been a lot of buzz around AlunaGeorge, but their festival performance showed she’s not quite ready for the festival circuit yet. The jams are tight: it is almost impossible to stop yourself from dancing to them and the music is on point. But vocalist Aluna Francis wasn’t quite able to let go of the charisma she’s clearly holding in and get the crowd into the palm of her hand. But the duo’s potential is clear. – C.E.S.