Lights in the Sky
Paul Brown • November 30, 2008 10:41 PM
If you know me at all, you would probably assume I am not a Nine Inch Nails fan. If you had asked me a year ago if I liked NIN, I would've told you I was not a fan. A few things happened in recent months that have drawn me toward the creative genius that is Trent Reznor. Throughout the existence of NIN, Reznor has always been openly against the recording industry, doing things such as holding studio time under pseudonyms as to not draw attention from the recording industry. In early 2008, NIN released their latest album, The Slip, for free on the internet.
This is where I come into the story. The Slip's free distribution caught the attention of the tech industry, with several of my favorite podcasts, including c|net's Buzz Out Loud and Leo Laporte's This Week In Tech. After hearing about it from these shows, I decided to download the album and see what it was like, knowing I wasn't particularly interested in Nine Inch Nails' music. As it turns out, this album sounded very different from the typical NIN songs you typical hear on the radio. Many songs do not have any lyrics and have an ambient feel to them, which I enjoy as background music.
In addition to downloading this album and becoming slightly interested, I also saw that Ken Wilson, over at www.avclub.us was making his way down to the Atlanta showing of the Lights in the Sky tour, and he posted some videos of the show on his vimeo page. This is where I discovered that when Trent Reznor puts on a concert, he really provides a full immersive multimedia experience, not just a band playing loud rock music.
I decided I wanted to see this show, but since I missed the Atlanta date, I checked out the tour dates and found that one of the shows was going to be in my hometown, Greenville, SC, at the BI-LO Center. My friend Simon and I headed up to the show, and I had no idea what to expect. I didn't know what Trent Reznor looked like, and I had only heard a small portion of NIN's music.
I won't go on with all the mundane details, but it was a mind-blowing experience. There were three LED walls on stage (the front two being the kind that you can see through when no video is being transmitted), each could be lifted into the air, and there were several walls of movable lights as well. The video walls were interactive to both the music and to Trent's movement on stage. For instance, in one song, the band was enclosed in the front two video walls, both showing a rainstorm, and when Trent stepped close to the front wall, it would reveal him as he moved around. At other times in the concert, there would be a bump map moving to the beat of the synthesizers, all the while blended in with a live video feed of Trent's face with a microphone as he sang.
I've posted some videos that I shot below, but check out the other links as well.
The making of Nine Inch Nails' Lights in the Sky set:
NIN's website to let you remix multi-track NIN songs and listen to other folks' remixes: http://www.remix.nin.com
NIN's YouTube video page: http://www.youtube.com/profile_videos?user=ninofficial
My videos and pictures: