Nine Inch Nails is an American industrial rock act, founded in 1988 by Trent Reznor in Cleveland, Ohio. Since 1988, Nine Inch Nails has performed throughout the world, including tours in North America, South America, Europe, Oceania, and Asia. During its earliest incarnations, Nine Inch Nails as a live band acted as supporting acts on tours for bands and musicians such as Skinny Puppy, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Peter Murphy, and Guns N' Roses. Subsequent tours have featured Nine Inch Nails as the headlining act, with support from bands such as Unkle, Marilyn Manson, Atari Teenage Riot, and A Perfect Circle.
Nine Inch Nails' live performances contrast with its in-studio counterpart. Reznor writes and performs nearly all Nine Inch Nails studio material, with occasional instrumental and vocal contributions from others artists. However, Reznor has typically assembled groups of backing musicians to interpret songs for tours and other live performances. The live-band lineup has changed constantly throughout the band's history, with frontman Reznor remaining the only constant on vocals and guitar, and long-time studio collaborator Atticus Ross officially joining in 2016. Notable musicians who have contributed to live performances include Chris Vrenna, Richard Patrick, Jeff Ward, James Woolley, Danny Lohner, Robin Finck, Charlie Clouser, Jerome Dillon, Alessandro Cortini, Josh Freese, and Ilan Rubin.
Those who know Nine Inch Nails only from their studio recordings--industrial-rock affairs heavy on synthesized sounds--might assume that the group's material wouldn't translate well in a live setting. They'd be sorely mistaken, as evidenced by the band's Friday night (5/13) performance at Boston's Orpheum Theatre.
In theory, Nine Inch Nails shouldn't be a great live band. Reznor's music sometimes consists of non-organic instruments thrown straight onto a computer, at times being twisted to the point of not even sounding like the original source.