Nine Inch Nails stormed through the 90s with massive success after signing with TVT Records in release of their first album titled Pretty Hate Machine. The album combined elements of heavy rock, metal, electronic, and even pop. Trent Reznor (founder of NIN, and the only consistent member of the group) paved the path for a genre of music that had never been heard before; a now popular genre considered industrial.
In lieu of the classic energetic rock show, which incorporated hair flips and a showcase of technical music training with guitar solos and high vocal ranges, NIN attacked every live performance with a dark factor filled with superior elements of macabre in order to provoke the dark and heavy sound they created.
On September 9, 1999, NIN was introduced live at the MTV Video Music Award’s by actor Johnny Depp for their performance of “The Fragile,” the title track off their third studio album that would be released by Nothing Records later that month on September 21.
Reeling in a crowd of thousands of excited fans before the music even began, the visual on stage incorporated a blackout before the band entered, and a compelling light show to immediately follow accompanied by fog machines and large moving installations resembling cranes decorated with panels of crossed wood.
Reznor’s showmanship was on point, appearing to be in what could be called a natural state, comfortably swaying in a meditative dance with the microphone, and even smiling at times when the live cellists emphasized their sound with an elegant but forceful strike to their instruments.
The show was considered to be the kickoff to their Fragility Tour, which ended in July of the following year.
The performance hailed a slew of positive reviews, with Rolling Stone Magazine declaring it one of the most memorable performances of the MTV VMA’s.