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LA Flashback: Nine Inch Nails Live at Helter Skelter

Tonight, Nine Inch Nails begins a streak of gigs at relatively small clubs across Los Angeles. While this may seem like a strange decision for a band at the end of a wildly successful career, Trent Reznor and company are no strangers to the LA club scene. Below, we found video stemming from NIN's February, 1991 show at Helter Skelter.

In the early 1990s, LA's goth scene centered around Helter Skelter. The club was founded by Michael Stewart and Bruce Perdew, the team behind the legendary rock club Scream, in 1989 and quickly became home to the darkest sounds available in Los Angeles. Nine Inch Nails played the party three times.

"We booked a lot of bands at Helter Skelter when we were at Stardust Ballroom, which is now a Home Depot over there in the Sunset and Western area," says Michael Stewart. "The booking agent at the time offered us Nine Inch Nails. I heard them from a friend of mine, but not a whole lot of people knew who they were. So, for the first tour, we booked them and it turned out to be a really, really amazing show. It was in the back room and it was packed. They did a two hour show and people were hanging from the rafters. It was a crazy energy."

The band returned while on the cusp of superstardom for the show documented in the above video. This time, Nine Inch Nails played the main room of Stardust Ballroom, which was actually a roller rink.

"Everyone knew who they were by then," Stewart recalls. "They came on stage. They got a bunch of girls to go on stage topless, had chocolate sauce in enema bags that were thrown on everybody. It was a really freaky show for that time period."

For Stewart, the gig represented the "pinnacle of Helter Skelter." Not too long afterwards, the LA underground began "fragmenting into different scenes." Goth and industrial became almost completely separate entities in terms of clubs. Stardust Ballroom closed and Helter Skelter eventually made its way to The Probe in Hollywood, where it became known more as a dance night than a live band outlet. Nine Inch Nails played the last of its Helter Skelter gigs, a private event that ended up being announced on KROQ, at The Probe. Stewart and Perdew launched a host of other parties, including Stigmata, Velvet and Perversion. Currently, Stewart is still involved with Perversion and continues to DJ across town.


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