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Trent Reznor nails it

ROCHESTER -- All roads led to Rochester Thursday, for the much-hyped Nine Inch Nails concert.

The wait leading up to the concert was a tedious one for many a concertgoer due to recent cancellations of a surprising number of dates on the With Teeth Tour, apparently caused by an illness that was ripping through the band. Fans approached the Blue Cross Arena with bated breath and fingers crossed, but the show went off without a hitch.

Saul Williams opened. This lyricist, belonging to an underground poet movement, has only recently seen the acclaim he so deserves. Williams became a leading light of spoken word/slam poetry for his writing and acting in the critically acclaimed film, "Slam." He is also recognized for his poetry, "said the shotgun to the head," "She" and "The Seventh Octave." His debut album, "Amethyst Rock Star," was hailed as "album of the year" by The Times of London.

So why is it that Saul Williams isn't a name we hear thrown around the dinner table? My only guess is that he opens for such tremendous acts as NIN, he can barely get a word through a crowd fixated on the headliner.

Williams did manage to move some people occupying the only half-full arena with his surprise hit single, "Black Stacy." (The other half of the crowd lingered in the lobby waiting for NIN to take the stage.)

The lights dimmed but the curtain remained lowered as Nine Inch Nails took the stage. Sound poured into what was now a packed arena, the crowd moving as one, as Trent Reznor's face appeared through the opaque curtain and he sang "Love Is Not Enough." The song ended, the veil lifted and the night raged on.

Cleveland, Ohio-based Nine Inch Nails was formed by Reznor in 1988. In more than 16 years the band has only produced four proper full-length albums, averaging five years between each. The most important is considered to be "The Downward Spiral" which went quadruple-platinum and gave us such memorable singles as "March of Pigs" and "Closer." If the other mothers of the world are anything like mine, whenever "Closer" came on, the radio went off. Such parental discontent for "Closer" made it a crowd favorite Thursday.

As the curtain lifted, the crowd was met with a blinding light as the band tore through "Terrible Lie." The crowd now moved with a mind of its own, hypnotized by light and controlled by voice. The crowd became more entranced as "Hurt," a song later covered by Johnny Cash, made the play list.

The curtain was lowered once again to display somewhat tragic images to accompany Reznor's voice, much like the late-night music videos aired on MTV2. For a good 10 minutes the crowd swayed silently, heads cocked to take it all in. Then, again the curtain rose to reveal the band as they drove home some new material, "Only" and "The Hand That Feeds." These two songs in particular steer away from the Depeche Mode, industrial rock of yesteryears and more toward radio-friendly, dark electro pop, which, coming from the curdling scream of Trent Reznor, can still get a crowd moving.

Just as quickly as it had started, the night came to an end. The lights came on, and we left, bruised, battered, beaten and utterly satisfied.

Rachel Eagan is a senior at Frontier.

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