Thursday, February 16th 2006 @ Wells Fargo Arena -- Des Moines, IA
FINALLY, a good concert came to Des Moines that the 'Concert Guy' wanted to go to. I passed on Nickelback and Trapt a few weeks ago, frankly because I don't like either band. And last weekend was Seether and Shinedown, two bands I had recently seen at The Rave and The Val Air Ballroom, respectively. I had been in severe concert withdrawl since early December (311), and my ears were HANKerin' for a good pounding. Well, Trent Reznor and Co. did the trick!
Your truly attended the concert at the brand new (July '05) Wells Fargo Arena in downtown Des Moines, IA, home of the Iowa Stars. Recent bands to play this venue have been Tom Petty, The Black Crowes, Green Day, Paul McCartney, Bon Jovi, and soon to be Aerosmith and Cheap Trick in March (NO, I won't be attending!) The stadium seats over 15,000, but I was disappointed by a very small crowd of only 5,000 that made it out to the show. Maybe it was the cold (temperatures were barely zero that night), but c'mon Iowa we can do better than that! We have to support these great acts so they keep on coming! ANYWAY, I was definitely not alone at this concert, as the ENTIRE Lonely Note crew came down from the cold oases' known as Ames and Cedar Falls to witness the spectacle.
Reznor, clad in a t-shirt and jeans (and a shaven head!), blasted out of the gate with "Mr. Self Destruct" off of his 1994 release The Downward Spiral. I felt like I was in an African Safari when NIN opened the show behind a canvas net, much like you'd see around beds of places trying to keep the bugs out (more on this later). He then tore into "Sin" and "Terrible Lie," smashing his mic-stand at the end of the latter. It was at this moment that I saw the most life out of bassist Jeordie White (aka Twiggy Ramirez) all night. He went crazy on his microphone stand a few times during the song, eventually firing into the crowd. Jeordie has definitely calmed down since his Manson days, not moving on stage for most of the show. In fact there were times that I forgot he was even up there. I think he could have afforded to crank up the amp on his bass a few times, but then again that's why I'm not in a band! I'm so used to hearing his powerful thundering, heard most clearly on his double and triple-layered bass lines on A Perfect Circle EP's. The same with drummer Josh Freese. Many claim him to be one of the best drummers in the world. He might well be, but he definitely didn't do anything spectacular during the 2 hour, 24 song show (frankly I was more impressed with Shannon Leto of 30 Seconds to Mars!). Guitarist Aaron North is a nut case, constantly bouncing around stage and twisting his guitar around his neck. It was a little fishy to hear Mr. North never miss a note as he was twisting his guitar. Maybe he's that good (probably), but I was thinking to myself during the show that he might have been getting some help from a backup track(?)
One thing that was not in question was Reznor's voice. It was just as strong as it was the day Pretty Hate Machine came out in 1989. I like to call it the "anti-Jonathan Davis Syndrome." What I mean by this is his voice is just as strong or stronger as it always has been, unlike Korn's lead-man, whose voice seems to get blander and blander, and more like a whine with each subsequent album (but still much love to Korn, they are still one of my favorite bands!). Trent has a certain power in his voice, and it was apparent when he moaned "You corn fed f***ing pigs" as he began "March of the Pigs." He then went into "The Frail" and "The Wretched," before finishing up segment with a powerful version of "Closer." He thanked the crowd for coming out, and couldn't even remember if he'd been to Iowa before (he has: way back in 1994). Then he gave a shout out to Slipknot, saying how hard it was to play after them on stage. OK -- I love Slipknot and am very proud of them being from Iowa, but does every freaking band that comes through here have to name-drop them? I know there isn't much else here, but they make it seem like Iowa is all Slipknot and nothing else, when it isn't! (ie check out Index Case). Recent concerts I have been to that have done this are Ill Nino, Shinedown, 311, and Chevelle (I think).
After that, the concert turned into the Discovery Channel, as "The Net" went back across the stage, and for 3 songs Reznor played movie clips of dividing cells, baboons hunting, ants attacking, and tons of exploding bombs and other politics. I felt like I was in a freaking IMAX! The song "Beside You in Time," played during this "interlude" was perfect for describing the angst Reznor was trying to portray in his messages. That was definitely one thing that was great about this show -- the blinding lights and lasers that dominated the stage added so much to the concert, that I thought I was watching a theatre production. The lights were so convincing and powerful that you could feel the music, not just hear it. The lights, combined with the net, gave the entire band a silhouette effect, of which they played a good part of the concert shrouded in. Every time Aaron's guitars pounded, Jeordie's bass boomed, and Trent banged his head, you could feel a powerful energy well up inside of you. After the "movie", NIN played some more recognizable tracks, such as "Every Day is Exactly the Same" and "The Hand that Feeds," off of their 2005 gold-certified release With Teeth. "Wish" was awesome, as well as his solo acoustic "Hurt". I thought the best song of the night was the second-to-last one, "Starf***ers," Trent's lament against Marilyn Manson and Courtney Love. Sans an encore, Reznor and Co. ended off the night with my favorite NIN song, "Head Like a Hole." The crowd left on a great note.
Overall, NIN put on an exceptional show. You don't see too many concerts like this, and I highly recommend getting to see them if you get a chance while they are still on tour. After all, they probably won't tour again for another 5 years! Opening the show was the band Moving Units, a band you will like if you are a fan of Franz Ferdinand (they sound exactly like them!) After the show, myself and the 3 other Lonely Noter's (and a few friends) headed out to personal fave watering hole The Royal Mile for some 11% alcohol Belgian beers. What a great night!
Upcoming "Hank" concerts: Ben Folds, Hawthorne Heights, Rob Zombie, Korn(?), Audacious P, and possibly Wilco and Fall Out Boy