Nine Inch Nails pays tribute to David Bowie, taps into powerful perfectionism to close FYF Fest 2017

Nine Inch Nails had played just once in the last three years before arriving at FYF Fest to headline the final night, but the show delivered by Trent Reznor and his band felt like the kind of finely tuned, road-tested set that might well have been perfected over dozens of shows before landing in Los Angeles on Sunday.

That it hadn’t, and Nine Inch Nails had only played a show in Bakersfield on Wednesday before coming to FYF Fest, is a testament Reznor’s perfectionism as a performer but also to the power of these songs, new and old, which balance rage with beauty, corruption with catharsis.

Related: These photos show you what it’s like to be at FYF Fest 2017

The night kicked off once peak smoke had been reached, thick, billowing clouds of artificial fog pumped out to obscure the stage just before Nine Inch Nails walked on, launching into “Branches/Bones,” one of four new songs in the set.

It, like “Wish,” which followed, raced along, anxious and frantic, Reznor singing at the microphone center stage as walls of warm lights alternated with blindingly white ones that almost left you nightblind when they went off.

“March of the Pigs,” from the band’s sophomore release, 1994’s “The Downward Spiral,” which broke the band as a hit-making act, drew a big response from the crowd. A pair of early NIN songs, “Something I Can Never Have” and “The Wretched,” worked from similar template, starting softly with a keyboard part before bursting into the aggressive hard edges of its industrial rock heart.

Related: See photos of the performers and their fans at FYF Fest 2017

“Closer,” one of the band’s biggest singles, and a signature track from “The Downward Spiral” provided a mid-set peak, and by now we should note how tightly Reznor and the rest of the band played all night long, with a particular tip of the hat to lead guitarist Robin Finck, whose on-and-off tenure dates back to 1994, and bassist Atticus Ross, the only official member other than Reznor, with whom he won an Oscar for their work on the score to “The Social Network.”

In addition to the four new Nine Inch Nails songs Reznor also introduced a new cover into the set, a version of “I Can’t Give Everything Away” by his late friend David Bowie. “I asked if we could take on his songs and rework it off his ‘Blackstar’ album,” Reznor said in introducing the number. “It’s helped us with the loss.”

Related: Iggy Pop, Little Dragon among Sunday’s highlights at FYF Fest

The end of the main set wrapped up with the new “Burning Bright (Field On Fire),” which saw Reznor singing through a megaphone, the stage bathed in red light, and “Head Like A Hole,” like “Closer” an early single and fan favorite that saw Reznor singing the verses and Finck shrieking the choruses, a balanced delivery once again.

The encore offered but a single song, but when that song is “Hurt,” the sorrowful hymn later famously covered by the late Johnny Cash, what better way to end a night, a day, a weekend of music than with this poignant classic, a number that touches the heart and the mind, leaving you something to think about on the long ride home?

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Iggy Pop, Little Dragon among the musical highlights Sunday at FYF Fest 2017

Twenty minutes before Iggy Pop was set to play a twilight set on the Lawn stage the dusty field before it looked ridiculously sparse for a legend like Iggy.

Surely the crowds weren’t going to skip the punk godfather in favor of the electronic rock of Little Dragon or the indie slacker goofball Mac DeMarco?

No worries in the end because by 7:20 p.m, when Iggy appeared in the wings, shirtless in jeans and boots, rocking back and forth to rev himself for performance, the legend had the crowd he deserved.

Related: Nine Inch Nails offer pay tribute to David Bowie at FYF

And from the start he and his band blazed an aggressive path through most of the big hits of in his catalog, starting with “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” “Gimme Danger” and “The Passenger,” to “Lust For Life,” “Some Weird Sin” and “Search and Destroy.”

It. Flat. Out. Rocked. The mosh pit surged throughout, even on the rare slower songs. Super-fan Henry Rollins of Black Flag fame looked on from the wings like a gleeful kid. And by the time I finished writing this bit, as Iggy sang “Gardenia,” from his acclaimed 2016 album, it was already the highlight of my two days here.

The third and final day of FYF Fest started like a typical lazy Sunday at a music festival, the crowds reconvening slowly after the late-night Main stage show by Frank Ocean on Saturday.

Related: See photos of the bands and their fans at FYF 2017

Julia Jacklin, a young Australian singer-songwriter opened the Club stage on Sunday, her songs offering hints of alt-country or Americana — Australiana? — though on her closing number, “Pool Party,” if you closed your eyes you might have thought it something akin to an unknown Lana Del Rey track.

On the Trees stage the breezy rock of Whitney, the Chicago band fronted by singing drummer Max Kakacek reminded me why they’d been so rewarding to catch in a similar time slot at Coachella, his falsetto and the Band-esque flavor of the music a feel-good combination.

Canadian singer-songwriter Andy Shauf made one of my favorite records of 2016 with “The Party,” a concept album of just what it says. His band featured two clarinet players along with the usual drums, bass, guitar and keyboards, and on songs as “Martha Sways” and “The Magician” Shauf and the band created a beautiful chamber pop feel.

Related: These photos show you what it’s like to be at FYF 2017

There were tougher sounds around the grounds, too, with the English rock band Temples playing a sort of neo-psychedelia with “Twilight Zone” a highlight of their set.

And over on the Lawn stage Ty Segall and his band blasted through a set of wild garage-psych rock, blazing on stage beneath the still-hot sun with “Candy Sam” a typically great scorcher of a song.

Related: Meet the fans of FYF whose tastes are just as diverse as the lineup

The Main stage finally opened for the day a little after 6 p.m.with the arrival of Little Dragon, the Swedish electronic band fronted by singer Yukimi Nagano.

She was dressed, as always, in wildly creative clothing — something that looked a bit like a cloud of see-through red netting over her head and draping down over an architecturally inspire couture dress. They sound great despite more naturally suited to darker venues, with “High” a highlight.

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