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TheStreet Open House

Shed Hell: Nine Inch Nails, Soundgarden Are the New Styx, REO Speedwagon

Stocks in this article: LYV

PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- When last we left Trent Reznor, the Nine Inch Nails frontman was in a Twitter fight with the Grammy Awards over his show-closing performance that the event's broadcast cut short.

Both he and Queens Of The Stone Age singer Josh Homme sounded off about the lack of respect, the indignity of losing an award to Imagine Dragons and their displeasure with the whole affair in general. We suggested that Reznor and Homme sounded like old rockers grumbling their way into irrelevance. For Reznor, the curmudgeonly evolution had just begun.

This week, Reznor and Nine Inch Nails announced a summer tour they're co-headlining with Soundgarden. They made sure to note that the tour would kick off at the Planet Hollywood hotel and casino in Las Vegas and end at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. It just didn't mention the venues in the middle.

They somehow failed to bring up the DTE Energy Music Center in Clarkson, Mich.; The Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, N.J.; Farm Bureau Live in Virginia Beach, Va.; The MIDFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly the 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre) in Tampa, Fla.; or The Sleep Train Amphitheatre in Chula Vista, Calif. That's right: The summer "shed show" circuit, where they'll be wedged in between nostalgic double bills like Journey/Steve Miller Band, Kiss/Def Leppard, Peter Frampton/Doobie Brothers and Chicago/REO Speedwagon. In their case, however, they'll just be the '90s "alternative" version of Chicago/REO Speedwagon.

This isn't a criticism of either Nine Inch Nails or Soundgarden. It's just the way music works.

Both Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden are 20 years removed from their best-selling albums -- 1994's The Downward Spiral (quadruple Platinum) and Superunknown, respectively. While Nine Inch Nails has been releasing new material steadily since that time and has expanded well beyond the boundaries of what it accomplished in the '90s and early 2000s, it maintained its critical acclaim and music geek cred, but lost its broader appeal. Soundgarden, meanwhile, just went on a 16-year hiatus after 1996's Down On The Upside while lead singer Chris Cornell embarked on a solo career and Audioslave -- his modern rock venture with the remains of Rage Against The Machine. Their 2012 return album, King Animal, was well-received but lightly purchased.

As we mentioned in the piece about Reznor and Homme, these bands still have the skill and following to draw well on the road, but just aren't as relevant to music at large as they were in their heyday. Nine Inch Nails drew from techno, industrial and house music in the '90s as bands like KMFDM and Ministry did, but had little use for hip-hop or electronic dance music. Cornell experimented when he could, but ultimately hued his solo and Audioslave sound to something Soundgarden fans would be comfortable with. When Soundgarden reunited, Cornell's return to the old material wasn't as dissonant as, say, Justin Timberlake performing an NSYNC song.

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