Reznor & Co. hammer it home Reznor & Co. hammer it home
The Dallas Morning News, Oct. 31, 1994

Nine Inch Nails wreaks musical devastation

By Tom Maurstad, Staff Critic of The Dallas Morning News

There are certain things you know about a Nine Inch Nails show going into it. You know it's going to be crowded, that wherever Trent Reznor and his band are playing is going to be packed beyond any point of comfort or prudence. You know you are going to spend hours before Nine Inch Nails comes on, pressed up against and slammed into by guys wound tight with the desire to explode. You know there are going to be moments when you'll have no idea what's going to happen next and you'll feel trapped and terrified. You know at different times you are going to be exhausted, disgusted, frustrated, scared and deeply, darkly angry. And there is one other thing you know.

You know that Nine Inch Nails is going to come on and after that, nothing else will matter.

Saturday night at a Fair Park Coliseum brimming with 8,000-plus fans, Trent Reznor demonstrated the secret of his success: He put on yet another devastating performance. Mr. Reznor has played here several times on his way to becoming hugely popular, and every time, he and his band have turned in heroic performances that had everyone in the audience going out to tell all their friends about this amazing band they had seen.

So for those waiting for Mr. Reznor and company, anticipation was high -- the audience providing its own distraction by cheering the sky-bound moshers flung over the sea of heads that covered the floor. And then the coliseum went dark, the stage lighted up, a shadowy figure tore through the curtain. And the whole place exploded. And there was that Nine Inch Nails sound: huge, overwhelming, at once a dense buzz and a propulsive groove. And all at once that sea of heads was a frenzy of motion and abandon.

The trajectory of Mr. Reznor's success can be measured by the escalating scale of his concert production. Though he played here last May, the Saturday night spectacle dwarfed that show just five months ago. A heavily draped backdrop, columns topped by spotlights set about the stage and banks of lights that would bathe the stage in color (usually blood-red) are among the effects Mr. Reznor now has at his disposal.

He created the most chillingly beautiful passage of the evening when a stage-front screen was lowered, on which was projected a montage of images of death and decay. Skulls, swarming insects, dead soldiers, mushroom clouds, windswept graves, a snake's unblinking stare -- all these black-and-white images swirled by as down in the corner, behind the screen, a tiny speck of color bleeding through, Trent Reznor stood looking lost and ghostlike, singing in a small, faraway voice about the way "everyone I know goes away in the end."