The Nine Inch Nails, Soundgarden and Cold Cave concert is coming, so it's blunt question time here in the Alibi's music division. Let’s get started.
Does it truly matter what sort of esoteric electronic excursions Trent Reznor has been undertaking in the studio of late, or do concertgoers show up to hear the man-who-is-Nine Inch Nails wail plaintively about how someone's head is like a hole and how he hurt himself that day, while an industry of noise churns and thumps behind him?
Does anyone really give a good goddamn about Soundgarden’s semi-new album, or do they just wanna hear “Black Hole Sun” or “Spoonman” played at brain-melting volume, while the stars above Burque do circles around their heads?
And what about originally scheduled tour opener Death Grips? One of hip-hop’s elusively intense, big-time reps, the group disbanded before the tour and right after their super premier record, niggas on the moon, left Earth’s orbit for deep space. What the hell was that about? They’ve been replaced on our leg of the tour by East Coast noir/new wave inheritor Cold Cave, which is super-cool but begs the final question in this series: How do you effectively sandwich a grungy guitar band between a couple gothy, keyboard-centered outfits?
The answers might astound you. Just kidding. Reznor successfully plumbed the uniform but ultra-profitable side business of producing soundtracks and video game accompaniments—Hey, the dude won a Golden Globe and an Oscar for his soundtrack work on The Social Network in 2010—Reznor opted to reanimate Nine Inch Nails in 2012. The result was Hesitation Marks, a recording that received heaps of positive critical attention for its sense of evolution and completeness.
Yet the feral, unrestrained allure of early Nine Inch Nails recordings remains. Albums like Pretty Hate Machine, Broken and The Downward Spiral marked a significant period in rock music and American culture. A sea change—spurred by a notorious ’90s youth fest that roughly translates as “Lollapalooza”—
So in answer to the first question: Of course humans still want to celebrate the slithery, ash-colored wickedness that Nine Inch Nails' back catalog exemplifies. And why not? Reznor’s no duffer. After all, he’s still making new and innovative music 25 years after “Head Like a Hole” dropped.
Meanwhile, Soundgarden is touring on the strength of their back catalog, but their latest record, 2012’s King Animal, yielded two number-one hits amongst pretty decent tuneage. As late-career comeback works go, King Animal wasn’t as evolutionary as some critics expected, and it was widely noted for sticking closely to tones of past triumph.
Still, Chris Cornell’s vocalizations seem a naturally hysterical fit when paired with Kim Thayil’s disturbing guitar riffage; just that magnetic thing was lacking from Cornell’s detour with the remnants of Rage Against the Machine. Talk about an audio slave. Drummer Matt Cameron took a hiatus this year to tour with some band called Pearl Jam. It’s heartening to know that somewhere on Earth, someone is still playing grunge. That effectively answers pregunta numero dos.
As far as Death Grips canceling goes ... well, that totally sucks. MC Ride, Zach Hill and Flatlander called it quits via a Facebook status update in early July. No specific reason was given, but a handwritten note revealed that “Death Grips was and always has been a conceptual art exhibition.” So what was up with that? Postmodernism, bitch.
Fortunately a rotating cadre of opening acts will replace Death Grips on tour. Here in Burque, that means an opportunity to observe Cold Cave, the deffest, darkest composer to come out of the eastern swamps in ages. Cold Cave is the brainchild of keyboardist and singer Wes Eisold. He started out playing punk rock in hardcore units like Some Girls and Give Up the Ghost, but Eisold ultimately found himself drawn to individual, introspective electronic creation—the kind that best happens at night.
The resulting recordings and performances emerge like drowned-out, dirt-crusted dirges to the entropic universe but with danceability thrown in for sauce. Cold Cave’s self-released 2009 album Love Comes Close calls forth winter and icy branches with minimalist synth and industrial tropes. Major label debut Cherish the Light Years epitomizes modern new wave-cum-goth-pop with 4AD-circa-1987 rhythmic and cold wave tendencies.
If it still ain’t perfectly clear how these bands will get away with such divergent musical proclivities, live and onstage, here’s my answer: They will rock the fuck out. Whether with old, new, local or national acts, that’s what the people really want.
Hear sincere rock-and-roll utterances of words like “amongst,” “whomsoever” and “salvation” with Nine Inch Nails, Soundgarden and Cold Cave at Isleta Amphitheater (5601 University SE) on Tuesday, Aug. 19, at 7pm. Tickets will run you between $25 to $120.