Self Destruct Tour

Self Destruct
Tour by Nine Inch Nails
Trent Reznor Self-Destruct.jpg
Reznor performing during the Self-Destruct tour, circa 1994–1995.
Associated albumThe Downward Spiral
Start dateMarch 9, 1994
End dateSeptember 8, 1996
Nine Inch Nails concert chronology

The Self Destruct Tour was a concert tour in support of industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails' album The Downward Spiral, which took place in early 1994, running until mid-1996, and was broken into eight legs.


The tour was filmed for the Closure tour documentary, a double-VHS set that documented live performances of the tour as well as the band from 1989–1991, and an extra VHS tape featuring the band's music videos, which was released in late 1997. A 2 DVD package featuring additional bonus content was planned for 2005. However, licensing issues forced an indefinite delay of an official release of the set. An alleged "prototype version" of the DVDs eventually leaked to torrent websites in 2006. This release has been attributed to Reznor himself.

This was Nine Inch Nails' first tour since the early 1990s shows for Pretty Hate Machine. During this time, Nine Inch Nails' music became angrier and more aggressive with releases like Broken and The Downward Spiral, which led to the concerts being often very violent and personal, with band members often injuring themselves. The stage set-up consisted of grungy curtains which would pulled down and up for visuals which might be played during songs (such as 'Hurt'), or pulled up for live performances of more aggressive songs. The back of the stage was littered with darker and standing lights, with very little actual lights.[1]

Trent Reznor overhauled the band line-up and image for the tour; guitarist Robin Finck joined to play guitar while Danny Lohner joined on to play bass guitar. However, Chris Vrenna and James Woolley were brought back from the Pretty Hate Machine Tour Series. Image-wise, instead of the sloppy, low-budget style for previous tours, the band often dressed in black leather smothered in cornstarch, with band members often changing their hairstyles to radical hair styles for every concert. Robin Finck used makeup to hide his eyebrows, and Reznor would often don his 'fishnet gloves' (as they would come to be known) for the show. The band's showy yet intense tour style gave the band comparisons to David Bowie, whom Reznor was a big fan of. Later in the tour, Bowie and Reznor's protégé, Marilyn Manson, would often join the frontman on stage to sing their songs—as evident in the Closure tour documentary.[1]

The tour included a set at Woodstock '94 broadcast on pay-per-view and seen in as many as 24 million homes. The band being covered in mud was a result of pre-concert backstage play, contrary to the belief that it was an attention-grabbing ploy, thus making it difficult for Reznor to navigate the stage: Reznor pushed Lohner into the mud pit as the concert began and saw mud from his hair going into his eyes while performing. Nine Inch Nails was widely proclaimed to have "stolen the show" from its popular contemporaries, mostly classic rock bands, and its fan base expanded.[1][2][3] The band received considerable mainstream success thereafter, performing with significantly higher production values and the addition of various theatrical visual elements.[4] Its performance of "Happiness in Slavery" from the Woodstock concert earned the group a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance in 1995.[1] Entertainment Weekly commented about the band's Woodstock '94 performance: "Reznor unstrings rock to its horrifying, melodramatic core--an experience as draining as it is exhilarating".[5] Despite this acclaim, Reznor attributed his dislike of the concert to its technical difficulties.[1]

The main leg of the tour featured Marilyn Manson as the supporting act, who featured bassist Jeordie White (then playing under the pseudonym "Twiggy Ramirez"); White later played bass with Nine Inch Nails from 2005 to 2007.[1][6] After another tour leg supporting the remix album Further Down the Spiral, Nine Inch Nails contributed to the Alternative Nation Festival in Australia and subsequently embarked on the Dissonance Tour, which included 26 separate performances with co-headliner David Bowie. Nine Inch Nails was the opening act for the tour, and its set transitioned into Bowie's set with joint performances of both bands' songs.[1] However, the crowds reportedly did not respond positively to the pairing due to their creative differences.[7]

The tour concluded with "Nights of Nothing", a three-night showcase of performances from Nothing Records bands Marilyn Manson, Prick, Meat Beat Manifesto, and Pop Will Eat Itself, which ended with an 80-minute set from Nine Inch Nails. Kerrang! described the Nine Inch Nails set during the Nights of Nothing showcase as "tight, brash and dramatic", but was disappointed at the lack of new material. On the second of the three nights, Richard Patrick was briefly reunited with the band and contributed guitar to a performance of "Head Like a Hole".[8] After the Self Destruct tour, Chris Vrenna, member of the live band since 1988 and frequent contributor to Nine Inch Nails studio recordings, left the act permanently to pursue a career in producing and to form Tweaker.[9][10]

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