How to Destroy Angels Fox Theatre Pomona April 10, 2013
Primed with a midnight set at the Mojave tent this Friday at Coachella, How to Destroy Angels orchestrated a visual and auditory assault at their debut show at the Fox Theatre in Pomona that make them a must see act at Coachella. One could sense the electricity in the air when the lights dimmed at the Fox. The curtain finally pulled back to reveal streams of electric lights four sheets deep as Alessandro Cortini, Atticus Ross, Mariqueen Maandig, Trent Reznor and Rob Sheridan worked in the shadows conjuring up the opening notes of "The Wake-Up."
How to Destroy Angels refer to themselves as a collective with all members contributing equally to their visual and auditory aesthetic. They recently added Cortini to their live band to help take on some bass guitar duties as well as extra synthesizer wizardry. All the members were hunkered over their work stations and grooved in time to the snarling synthesizer bass of "Keep It Together."
Maandig's sultry vocals slithered along with the mechanical beats and haunting sound effects. There was a palpable uptick in energy when Reznor intertwined his vocals along with hers. Longtime creative director for Nine Inch Nails Rob Sheridan had his own station next to Reznor and was controlling the hypnotic visuals to pulse in time with the music and even added some background vocals.
Reznor made his guitar scream for a harrowing rendition of "Parasite" which could easily be placed in a horror movie with its neurotic feel. As expected, the visuals kept your mind completely engaged as during "And The Sky Begins To Scream" the four deep panel of lights in front of the band rotated to the audible screams from the audience. "Ice Age" had a bone chilling effect with its haunting steel machinery echoes that reminded me of the tension from the score of "The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo" that Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor created.
Having listened to the album many times trying to dissect the numerous sonic layers, it was interesting to note that How to destroy angels_ tinkered with some of the mixes and added even more interesting tidbits. "The Believers" seemed to have a fortified synthesizer bassline that made the song crush your skull tightly. Maandig took center spotlight for "How Long?" as the rest of the band continued to operate in shadows.
Defragmented visuals and Maandig's distorted vocals continued to captivate my attention for "Welcome Oblivion". My favorite song "BBB" was even better in the live format as Reznor slammed on some electronic drum pads. Vocoder processed vocals dominated "The Space In Between." Cortini crushed the bass for the distorted disco feel of "Fur Lined" and its buzzsaw guitars.
Only the end of the set during "On The Wing" would the electronic light curtains open and fully reveal all the band members. The nervous tick feel of "Strings and Attractors" continued to keep the momentum driving forward. "We Fade Away" was the perfect set closer as the lyrics repeat the phrase of "we fade away" and the visuals come to an apex with the members seemingly fading away. It will be interesting to see how Coachella patrons respond to their set, but I will definitely be staying till the end to catch them again.
Hailing from New York, DIIV assembled a strong opening set by perfectly dialing up crystalline reverb and delay drenched guitars that were undeniably catchy and I couldn't help but keep my foot tapping along to their songs. Definitely another act to watch for and catch at Coachella.
Critical Bias: My vacation to England happened to coincide with seven Nine Inch Nails shows back in 2007.
The Crowd: Not as many Nine Inch Nails shirts in the crowd as I expected but definitely a lot of the same familiar faces that I saw throughout the years when Nine Inch Nails toured.
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Overheard In The Crowd: Obligatory "I Love you Trent" shouts from various locations in the venue.
Random Notebook Dump: Brett Gurewitz from Bad Religion was standing next to me and former Nine Inch Nails drummer Josh Freese was also close by judging from his Instagram.
Setlist "The Wake-Up" "Keep It Together" "Parasite" "And The Sky Began to Scream" "Ice Age" "The Believers" "How Long?" "Welcome Oblivion" "BBB" "The Space In Between" "Fur-Lined" "The Loop Closes" "A Drowning" "On The Wing" "String and Attractors" "We Fade Away"