Reporting Scott T. Sterling
Armed with a state-of-the-art light show and an arsenal of tracks both classic and new, Nine Inch Nails dazzled the main stage capacity crowd on the second night of Outside Lands 2013.
Boasting the same awe-inspiring staging featured at the band’s recent Lollapalooza performance (inspired by the Talking Heads’ legendary 1984 concert film Stop Making Sense), Trent Reznor and crew changed up the set list, running through three new songs in a row — “Copy of A,” “Disappointed” and “Came Back Haunted” — all taken from the upcoming eighth NIN full-length, Hesitation Marks.
The fan-pleasing set touched on a wide range of Nine Inch Nails’ vast discography, including albums like 2008′s The Slip (“1,000,000”), 1992’s Broken EP (“Help Me I Am in Hell,” “Gave Up”), 1996′s The Fragile (“The Way Out is Through”) and 1994 rarity “Burn,” from the Natural Born Killers soundtrack.
Photo Gallery: Outside Lands 2013
Reznor also delved into the band’s earlier material, digging into storied 1989 debut Pretty Hate Machine for “Head Like a Hole,” “Terrible Lie” and dark-lit ballad “Something I Can Never Have.”
“Closer,” i.e. the one NIN song non-fans know, generated a gleefully profane crowd sing-along, while new song “Find My Way” already sounds like a standout track from the forthcoming Hesitation Marks.
Ending with “Hurt,” from the band’s magnum opus The Downward Spiral, Nine Inch Nails put a slow-burning exclamation point on the headlining set, ratcheting up anticipation for the band’s Tension 2013 Tour, which kicks off in St. Paul, M.N., Sept. 28.
Across Golden Gate Park on the Twin Peaks stage, one of this year’s festival mainstays, Phoenix, charged through their own headlining show. Much to the delight of the younger end of the crowd not entranced by Nine Inch Nails’ brutal display, the French electro-rockers cruised through instant classics “Lisztomania” and “1901,” as well as equally buoyant new songs like “Trying to Be Cool” and “Entertainment.” Lead singer Thomas Mars once again pulled out his current festival showstopper of crowd-surfing from deep inside the crowd, back onto the stage.
Other highlight sets during the second day of Outside Lands included a powerful main stage set from Karen O and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, with tracks like “Zero” and “Heads Will Roll” (both taken from the band’s 2009 album, It’s Blitz) eliciting the biggest crowd response, next to the band’s signature song, “Maps.”
Earlier, DJ Baauer drew a massive crowd of party kids to the Twin Peaks stage with his trap-heavy hip-hop beats, maintaining a steady sea of dancers that erupted with a spin of “Harlem Shake” that even had bodies sipping merlot back by the “Wine Lands” tasting area shaking butts.
While after-parties raged across San Francisco throughout the night, fans around town were prepping for the festival’s third and final day, which will feature performances from Hall & Oates, Vampire Weekend, Willie Nelson and show-closers the Red Hot Chili Peppers.