Lollapalooza 2013: A Recap
One of the most marketable elements of any music festival is the nostalgia factor. With bands celebrating reunions, anniversaries, or comeback material, festivals like Coachella, Bonnaroo, and last weekend's Lollapalooza place well-worn, old school heavy hitters against current bestsellers. Despite some redundancy in the line-up, there's comfort in the familiarity of the past, which is exactly what encore sing-a-longs to Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt" and The Cure's "Boys Don't Cry" drove home at Chicago's annual music festival.
Having last played Lolla in 2008, a year before mastermind Trent Reznor played their final show before an "indefinite hiatus," it was only fitting that Reznor & Co. would play their first American show in four years at the fest given the band's lengthy history with Perry Farrell's formerly traveling alt rock circus. They were part of the festival's very first line-up in 1991 alongside Farrell's band Jane's Addiction and a diverse roster of artists including Ice T and the Violent Femmes. Twenty-two years after that preliminary tour, Lollapalooza is not only stationary now but larger than ever, having sold out for both three-day passes and single day tickets almost immediately.
Much like the festival itself, Nine Inch Nails proved how time has made them grow stronger by performing a 100-minute set packed with career-spanning classics juxtaposed with newer songs off the forthcoming Hesitation Marks that fit seamlessly into the set. With the video screens at the sides of the stage off and massive panels that would project shadows of the band Matrix-style visuals in the background throughout the show, Reznor walked on stage at the 8 p.m. start time with no theatrics, drama, or warning and jumped into a killer performance of new song "Copy of A." Classics like "March of the Pigs" brought out massive mosh pits towards the front of the crowd that matched the level of intense vigor the band displayed on stage. With very few moments of subdued energy, the musicians went from song to song with the industrial resilience NIN is known for, Reznor never saying much more than "thank you" in between songs towards the end of their set.
Ending with "Hurt" as the single-song encore left a moment of satisfaction and thirst for more at a show filled with heart-warmingly happy and thankful fans. Prior to the show, many of the fans in my section were sharing how long they had waited to see Nine Inch Nails perform, set predictions, and how happy they were that their chance to see them perform classics like "Closer," "Piggy," and "Head Like a Hole" live hadn't been erased forever. As the massive festival crowds calmed down from moshing in the mud after the rain from earlier in the day, the sound of thousands screaming out "what have I become?" just before the 10 p.m. curfew made the angsty hit more unifying than heartbreaking.