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Bewildering Thrill: Nine Inch Nails at the Santa Barbara Bowl (Photos)

The revered ensemble light up an enthusiastic crowd with their signature explosive sound.

nine inch nails
Photograph by Maurice Núñez

Photos & Text by Maurice Nuñez (@devilman.138),

Taken at the Santa Barbara Bowl on September 13, 2022:

Earlier this week, I was brought to the beautiful community of Santa Barbara,

California for an occasion that was quite the contrast to the town's tranquil atmosphere — Nine Inch Nails at the Santa Barbara Bowl with special guest, Yves Tumor, courtesy of Goldenvoice. The venue, which is situated upon a hilltop in a residential part of town, is a gem among many of the state's iconic offerings. I parked at the local high school, took a seven minute walk up the hill past a residential area, and boarded a tram ready to take concert goers up the hill where passengers were dropped off at the entrance of the venue.

Nine Inch Nails had recently announced a handful of shows in September, covering seven cities including Denver, Los Angeles, and Cleveland. Last

time I had the opportunity to see NIN live was back in '95 when they

played with the late David Bowie. That was a surreal experience, but

tonight would be no different.

The supporting act was Yves Tumor, best known for producing of

experimental, forward thinking synth music. They were a first for me, but immediately

could see why there were asked to be part of the tour.

yves tumor
Photograph by Maurice Núñez

They have an eccentric, glam rock vibe to them, which drew high praise from the many in the crowd. They started the set with a standout, Jackie, then went right into Gospel for A New Century — two staples that resemble the eclectic approach to songcraft. Fan favorites like Medicine Burn, Kerosene!, Dream Palette, and ...And Loyalty Is A Nuisance Child also received some shine. It was a great set full of strong showmanship and I look forward to seeing more of Yves Tumor in the future.

Yves Tumor Photo Gallery

Up next were our headliners, the legendary Nine Inch Nails as helmed by Trent Reznor, who took the stage amidst flashing white lights. At this point, the energy at the venue was intense and the crowd roared, ready for NIN to take charge. Doing right by their celebrated discography, they commenced with Mr. Self Destruct — a top pick from 1994's The Downward Spiral. As expected, the crowd went wild and sang along to every one of Trent's words as if he was their fearless leader in battle. Robin Finck, as shown below, ripped through it with a resounding guitar tone that reverberated across the Bowl.

nine inch nails
Photograph by Maurice Núñez

From there, the band went right into the classic Wish and Last, arguably two of the band's top songs ever. NIN then tore through an array of selections that include March of The Pigs, Piggy, Reptile, Closer, The Perfect Drug, and The Hand That Feeds. In all, Ilan Rubin's drumming was in prime form, adding heft to an already heavy performance. This was a blistering set of industrial power served by only someone like Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross could deliver. They did not miss a beat and brought things to an end with the blood curling Head Like A Hole.

nine inch nails
Photograph by Maurice Núñez

It was a celebration of what made gave Nine Inch Nails their status as one of industrial/rock's greatest acts of today. Beyond that, there was a healthy mix of contemporary tracks, like God Break Down The Door. See the full setlist below, along with an extensive photo gallery of the performance:

Mr. Self Destruct



March of the Pigs


The Lovers

The Frail

The Wretched


God Break Down the Door

Copy of A


This Isn't the Place


The Perfect Drug

I'm Afraid of Americans (David Bowie cover)

Gave Up

The Hand That Feeds

Head Like a Hole

Nine Inch Nails


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