Boston Calling 2022: Nine Inch Nails Deliver Blistering Headline Set in Place of Foo Fighters

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The post Boston Calling 2022: Nine Inch Nails Deliver Blistering Headline Set in Place of Foo Fighters appeared first on Consequence.

For the second time in a week, Nine Inch Nails played a festival headline slot that was initially intended for Foo Fighters. At both last weekend’s Welcome to Rockville and Friday’s Boston Calling kick off, Trent Reznor and co. served as last-minute replacements after the tragic loss of Foo drummer Taylor Hawkins.

Festivals being forced to find fill-ins for canceled acts isn’t the rarest of things, but the circumstances around NIN adding these dates to their first tour in four years comes from uniquely sad circumstances. About an hour into their Boston Calling set, Reznor addressed the situation in a heartfelt statement from the stage.

“We’re very happy to be here with you tonight and share this time with you,” he said. “And we’re very sorry for the conditions that led to us being here, with our friends Foo Fighters. Our hearts go out to them.”

This was the only direct mention made about Hawkins; there was no Foo Fighters cover added to the set (nor was there one at Rockville), nor was there a tribute video or message displayed on the big screens. Instead, Reznor reflected on how even in the darkest of times, music serves as a refuge, a “thing that kept me going, that gave me a reason to not feel like a piece of shit, to make me feel like I wasn’t alone all the time.”

Expressing his apparently genuine surprise that they drew such a huge crowd even as a replacement headliner, Reznor said, “That’s not some bullshit line — that’s the truth. We really appreciate it.” Then he said this:

“I think the thing that I have — either it’s getting old, whatever happened with this COVID, or this relentless stream of never-ending bad news that seems to be happening constantly: fucking people dying, guns, and fucking disease, and war. Man, it’s made me very grateful for moments that really fucking kick ass. We’re grateful to be here with you tonight.”

This was the set up to “Even Deeper,” an utterly depressing song Reznor said he wrote at one of the lowest points in his life. That might seem like a contradiction of sentiments, but really it just served to highlight his point. No matter how hard it gets out there, music — even downer music — is there to bring us together and lift us up.

boston calling 20222 nine inch nails friday night foo fighters
boston calling 20222 nine inch nails friday night foo fighters

Nine Inch Nails, photo by Ben Kaye

Yet despite that universal truth, there has been quite a bit of whining online about Nine Inch Nails replacing not just Foo Fighters, but now The Strokes as well, as the Saturday night headliners had to pull out due to COVID. You know how you know all that social media BS is a vocal minority and not indicative of reality? The crowd on Friday night for which Reznor was so grateful.

The Harvard Athletic Center field was packed to the edges. While a NIN show is never going to deliver the same type of fun as a Foo Fighters gig, the audience singing and clapping along with “Heresy” proved there’s joy to be had even in the darker vibes.

And, boy, do Nine Inch Nails set the vibe. Their lighting rig is heavy on the strobes, bursting through the smoke to create exactly the type of scene you’d expect from an industrial rock band. Then there’s the handheld camera moving around the stage beaming a picture directly to the stage screens, giving off the uneasy feel of some of the band’s classic music videos. Most impressive was the creativity used during “Copy of A,” where the strobes created jerky echos of the band on the curtain behind them.

Nine Inch Nails 10 Best Songs
Nine Inch Nails 10 Best Songs

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Nine Inch Nails’ 10 Best Songs


It’s hard to say there were a many surprises in the setlist (perhaps they’re saving that for Saturday’s half of the double-header). There was a relatively rare inclusion of “Only,” and “Somewhat Damaged” appeared for only the second time this year. Regardless, the ever-hard-hitting cover of David Bowie’s “I’m Afraid of Americans,” the ferocious drumming of Illan Rubin during “The Perfect Drug,” and the way “The Only Time” slips into “Closer” all showed that Nine Inch Nails are one of the best festival headlining acts on the circuit — even when they’re just a replacement act.

Nine Inch Nail’s Saturday slot at Boston Calling is their last North American date of the season. They’ll be back in the fall, and you can get tickets to all their upcoming dates here.

boston calling 20222 nine inch nails friday night foo fighters
boston calling 20222 nine inch nails friday night foo fighters

Nine Inch Nails, photo by Ben Kaye

Setlist:
01. Somewhat Damaged
02. Wish
03. Less Than
04. March of the Pigs
05. Piggy
06. The Lovers
07. Heresy
08. Reptile
09. Copy of A
10. Closer (with “The Only Time” breakdown)
11. Sanctified
12. The Perfect Drug
13. Burn
14. Even Deeper
15. Survivalism
16. I’m Afraid of Americans (David Bowie cover)
17. Only
18. Gave Up
19. The Hand That Feeds
20. Head Like a Hole
21. Hurt

Boston Calling 2022: Nine Inch Nails Deliver Blistering Headline Set in Place of Foo Fighters
Ben Kaye

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