NINJA show in Chula Vista

Seconds after singing the last words of the song ‘Hurt,’ Nine Inch Nails front man Trent Reznor said goodnight to the audience and led his band offstage to conclude the first two performances of the night.

Playing what seemed to be a short set of mostly new songs, NIN certainly warmed up the stage both physically, with the smoke machines, and metaphorically for the headliners. The night was certainly not over yet.

Jane’s Addiction, Nine Inch Nails and Street Sweeper Social Club played at the Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre in Chula Vista, California on May 16.

Nine Inch Nails perform at the Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre in Chula Vista, California
Nine Inch Nails perform at the Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre in Chula Vista, California

Located just a few miles north of the American Mexican border, the venue started to fill up as the sun set. For those who needed to be welcomed, ‘California Love’ by Dr. Dre and 2pac blasted through the speakers as the opening act took the stage.

Street Sweeper Social Club, with former Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello, performed an energetic set with a blend of alternative rock and MC style vocals. Morello’s guitar playing has lost none of its potency from the Rage days as he still looks, guitar held high above his waist, and sounds the same with classic screeching riffs. The band finished the half hour set with a cover of MC5’s ‘Kick out the jams.’

The Night now in full swing, concert goers admired the backdrop of the southern Californian mountains behind the stage as they waited for NIN to come on. Had you have closed your eyes absorbing the cool night air for too long and you would have missed the first song. The quartet went on stage and erupted through the speakers. So much so that after the first song, the PA system stopped working properly and only those seated in the lower bowl of the venue could hear anything. “I’ll rip the fucking speakers down if that happens again,” Reznor told the audience. “It’s not a nails’ show unless it’s loud.”

With the speakers fixed and as loud as ever, NIN ripped through material from their latest album. They did pause however between some songs to perform various piano/keyboard instrumentals. But after the momentary settle, NIN changed pace and again the place was rocking. If it wasn’t their sound that stimulated the crowd, the stage show had both fans and non fans wide eyed. A sign had been placed at the entrance of the venue warning those who have problems with strobe lighting. The organizers weren’t kidding. Each song brought upon different lighting effects that was matched perfectly with the sound, putting those in attendance in a trance like state.

During the set, the stage was flooded with smoke which Reznor would often disappear in and then remerge just in time to scream out the words to the song. It was all business for NIN as they hardly let any ears escape their guitars, bass, drums, piano/keyboard and synthesizers. They finished their set with ‘Hurt’ with the spotlight solely on Reznor and the crowd joining him for the chorus.

Naked girls from the 50s and a scene from the flick The River Wild were the intros on the screen for headliners Jane’s Addiction. Saluting their fellow Californians, lead singer Perry Ferrell revealed all members live nearby, Jane’s played a set of new and old favourites such as ‘Been Caught Stealing’ and ‘Jane says.’ Throughout each song, Ferrell danced across the stage while guitarist Dave Navarro, down on his knees, played nail biting solos to the crowd.

A change in tempo from the NIN set, but it was a change that worked. Jane’s played both harder and softer songs and pleased the audience with two encores. After the final lyric and riff from Navarro, all members paid tribute to the audience, especially Farrell who stayed on stage longer than the others. The thousands who came south from Mexico and north from San Diego and Los Angeles left satisfied knowing that they had witnessed a once in a lifetime event.

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