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Omigod, omigod, omigod 

You know, I thought I was over assumptions. Still, I went to see Nine Inch Nails last Thursday and was pretty sure of what I was gonnasee. Well I scene it and a whole lot more.

Word has it the crowd at Blue Cross Arena topped out at 5500. There was plenty of the black-leather, black-rubber, white-faced, disenfranchised minions milling about. But alongside the outsiders and the lunatic fringe were frat boys, sorority girls, rockers, bikers, preppies, yuppies, dirt bags... as Archie Bunker would say, regular Americans.

I also found out --- via a lucky fan at will call --- that your backstage pass isn't actually activated until you call at least 15 of your friends and scream: "Omigod, omigod, omigod!"

The night wasn't the industrial funeral I'd expected. Nor was NIN's music, which --- though mechanical, menacing, and still fairly depressing --- displayed more of a hard-rock twist. The kind you can grab onto and dig.

The band took the foggy stage and performed "Love Is Not Enough" from behind a scrim and with strobe lights like the ones in those Japanese video games that give kids seizures. For its volume, the sound was remarkably clear. Frontman Trent Reznor sported a crew cut and a set of pythons, looking as if he'd just gotten outta the joint. He loomed and leaned angrily over his mic as guitarist Aaron North spun and thrashed about in a display of exuberance and showbiz that dwarfed Reznor's.

The Electro Kings play The Beale Street Café virtually every Saturday night. And man you've just gotta see 'em. Stuffed in the front window like hipster marionettes, Luca Foresta and crew played some mighty fine shufflin' blues for a modest crowd at the bar. Foresta's harp tone is awesome: from sweet bluebird to freight-train wail. A splash of early rock 'n' roll along with Foresta's penchant for Dezi-duds make for a cool scene.

--- Frank De Blase

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