Supported by the raw punk band of Aussie expat Brody Dalle (who is also Mrs Josh Homme), the night started as overdriven and distorted as you’d expect from a combination of Nine Inch Nails and Queens Of The Stone Age (NIN/QOTSA). Dalle was sometimes difficult to hear vocally, as the band were unsurprisingly loud and hard, but in her defence she redeemed herself by finishing her set with a chunky version of The Misfit’s ‘Hybrid Moments’.
Winning the coin toss to decide who opened first, Trent Reznor hit the stage opening with ‘Me, I’m Not’ and continued for the next hour or so with an electro-mechanical, lyric driven noise typical of the industrial rock sound NIN are famous for cranking out. Not only did the set list comprise of elements of industrial grunge, electronic trance, synth and drum-machine laced songs covering a span of eight albums, but the alternating ‘dim to strobe’ lighting and smoke added to the primal and aggressive statement that is the NIN hallmark.
Playing ‘March Of The Pigs’ early in the set, Robin Finck’s barrage of distorted guitar ripped through the very core of the audience as did the drums, bass, keyboards…ok, every damned instrument they could get their hands on. Reznor’s raspy vocals on harder numbers like ‘Wish’, ‘Copy Of A’ and ‘Head Like A Hole’ were still evident after 25 plus years of performing, and he could also still muster his more sublime voice on ‘Hurt’, which he sung as a finale.
NIN are a great experience live, and their songs take on a new sinister dimension when up close and personal.
After a stage change, it was QOTSA’s turn to play, opening with ‘You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar, but I Feel Like a Millionaire’ and then straight into ’No One Knows’, which was backed up with a floor to ceiling screen projecting a neon QOTSA logo amidst thunderclouds in true RKO fashion.
Josh Homme did a great job holding his own and of course the crowd wanted to hear tracks from ‘Like Clockwork’, ’Songs For The Deaf’ and beyond, which Homme and his band kindly obliged. Drummer Jon Theodore (ex Mars Volta), and guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen went equally hard in each song, and were still machines throughout the set with impressive energy in fast paced numbers like ‘Sick, Sick, Sick’ up until the finale which included ‘A Song For The Dead’.
I’m not sure that a verdict on who was better on the night is either needed or indeed fruitful, as all bands including Brody Dalle brought their own juice to the table in a triple bill designed to knock your teeth out. Having attended several music festivals of recent, the concept of double/triple bills instead of packed, overlapping lineups seems personally more appealing and viable, but that could be a matter of personal taste.
Either way, it was great to see competing rivalries doing so in a good natured way, with all bands being good friends on and off stage putting egos aside and wanting to play together.
Reviewed by Darren Hassan