So PBS, the company that airs Sesame Street among other programs, recently aired a performance by Nine Inch Nails on its program, Austin City Limits. The show was a great 50+ minute set that covered songs from the early days up to the current NIN release, ‘Hesitation Marks.’

What immediately stood out to me was how sedate and NORMAL the whole thing seemed. The band were mostly in black t-shirts and jeans and the usual NIN light and multimedia stage presentation was conspicuously absent, with the traditional Austin City Limits studio backdrop in its place. And, get this, BACK UP SINGERS. Honestly the whole thing looked more like a stage set up for Sting. After the first song Trent told the crowd, "We don’t want to turn this into a NIN show, we want to bring NIN into Austin City Limits and be out of our element.”

And that’s what they did.

There was a considerable amount of backlash on the band’s Facebook page with people complaining that Trent has finally lost the plot and that NIN are no longer the twisted, subversive, iconoclastic entity they used to be.

Look, I’ve seen shows where Trent and the band spent more time destroying their instruments than playing music, other shows that were stripped down to the bare essentials and others that were among the most elaborate, technical and perfect rock shows I’ve ever witnessed. The reality is that the pissed off, angry, YOUNG Trent Reznor is now a happily married father and an Academy Award winning soundtrack composer. Should he really be expected to stick with his original formula and never deviate? Too late for that. A lot like David Bowie (with whom Trent has collaborated in the past), he doesn’t seem interested in being pigeonholed and is one of the few artists who has consistently evolved, usually at the risk of abandoning a rabid core fan base.

What do you think? Would you prefer your favorite band take more risks or should they stick to doing what made you fall in love with them in the first place? Discuss.

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