When industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails shuffled onto the music scene in the early '90s, frontman Trent Reznor looked at the world through his long bangs, pulled his trenchcoat tight and delivered pounding poetry with a huge hammer. In the years since, Reznor has behaved in the passionate, serious way common to artists, and he's done the one thing that may prevent him from ever falling into the dark well of obscurity: He continues to surprise his fans. When NIN played the Idaho Center in 2006, a Boise Weekly reviewer wrote of Reznor's new look: "... sporting a nearly-shaved head and buff physique—the new Reznor looks like the kind of guy who would've beat up the old Reznor in high school."
Though NIN's sound remains more or less true to its beginnings, it's the exploration of new sounds and incredible new ways of delivering them that keeps NIN fans diehard NIN fans and gains them new ones. Fans receive access to exclusive downloads and ticket pre-sale opportunities for doing little more than signing up at nin.com (and occasionally filling out a survey). Reznor's creative methods of getting his music out have earned him write-ups not only in the likes of Rolling Stone and SPIN, but on tech blogs, in the pages of magazines like Wired and music blogs like the Lefsetz Letter.
And NIN puts on a hell of a show. A performance at the Gorge in Washington a few years ago was a stand-out performance among a three-day feast of stand-out performances and an experience I'd relish repeating.
Monday, Dec. 8, with The Bug, 8 p.m., $29.50-$39.50. Idaho Center, 16200 Idaho Center Blvd., 208-442-3232, idahocenter.com.