CONCERT REVIEW: NIN, Queens highlight second day of MIA

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First Posted: 9/9/2013

Maybe it was apparent because his sweat-covered face was featured on gigantic screens that sat atop the iconic concrete steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, or maybe it was the tight set of hits blended seamlessly with new cuts, but anyone who stayed until the end of the Budweiser Made In America on Sept. 1 knew that Trent Reznor had come back haunted and more determined than ever.

Nine Inch Nails has only made a few festival appearances since Reznor reformed the band, and while this set, which started around 9:30 p.m. Sunday night, was similar to Lollapalooza’s a month earlier, it was no less intense. He entered the stage alone, bright white lights casting his towering shadow behind him on blank white walls, and as his bandmates entered, he began building into “Copy of A” from their new album, “Hesitation Marks.” Next, they jumped back almost immediately to 1989’s “Sanctified,” then forward again for “Came Back Haunted.”

“It’s good to be back, and I appreciate you being here,” he told the crowd, and it felt like he meant it as he relived emotion after dark emotion on “Terrible Lie,” “Burn,” “Closer,” “Gave Up,” “Somewhat Damaged,” “Wish,” and many more staples of the NIN catalog.

The 20-song, hour-and-a-half headlining set ended with “The Hand That Feeds,” “Head Like a Hole,” and “Hurt,” leaving a quiet, somber end to a bright and busy day.

The Weekender arrived for the second day of Jay Z’s two-day annual festival in the early afternoon, catching the energetic and soulful Fitz and the Tantrums just before 2 p.m. The Gaslight Anthem took the Rocky Stage (main stage) an hour later, and while their 11 songs were reminiscent of a young Bruce Springsteen, their dull stage presence left much to be desired from guys half The Boss’ age.

Just so hip-hop fans knew there was more to this festival than rock, Kendrick Lamar killed that vibe with his Top 40 hits, while Wiz Khalifa took a much more chill, peace-loving approach, even sharing something in common with Warped-style acoustic punks The Front Bottoms, who played the small Skate Park Stage simultaneously – their songs both prominently featured toking up.

After declaring his love of Philly cheesesteaks and taking note of the crowd’s apparel, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis busted into “Thrift Shop” around 7 p.m., accompanied by live dancers and trombones, but the pair weren’t just there to have fun.

“Who you are in your heart is up to you,” Macklemore emphasized, saying that no government or institution should be able to decide who someone can love – the perfect introduction for “Same Love.” “Can’t Hold Us” closed the shoulder-to-shoulder set.

Particularly compared to Calvin Harris, who bored with his flashy pre-recorded DJ set, Queens of the Stone Age absolutely killed it, blowing through “No One Knows, “Little Sister,” and “A Song for the Dead,” but truly shining on brand new songs from “…Like Clockwork,” such as opener “My God Is the Sun,” “I Sat by the Ocean,” “Smooth Sailing,” “If I Had a Tail,” and the lonely piano ballad “The Vampyre of Time and Memory.”

Frontman Josh Homme continually reminded the crowd to “break the rules” and just have fun, even scolding a security guard for trying to pull a girl down from her boyfriend’s shoulders.

“What is this, your f—king parents’ house?” Homme yelled.

No, it certainly was not. It was the middle of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway on a warm Sunday evening, and if there were any rules established about how to put a successful festival together, Jay Z broke them with this eclectic lineup and came out on top.