There's a breadth and fury to Jane’s sound that makes this much more than a nostalgic exercise and hints at just how amazing the upcoming tour with Nine Inch Nails will be.


The Crowds Are Getting Bigger,
and So Is the Rock
After spending much of the morning with meetings, actual phone and computer work (as I get busier on the business front, inevitably my value as a columnist decreases), I ended up starting the day a bit late with a rollicking set by The Henry Clay People, who tore through their Telecasters with customary abandon. Aside from being a band that's just plain fun, they are perhaps the most organic and I daresay authentic of the growing flock of bands seeking to reclaim the eroded shores of classicist beer-soaked American rock. The acclaim afforded to bands like The Hold Steady and The Gaslight Anthem is a testament to the fact that a core of true believers is out there clamoring for a new generation of earnest bar bands with weightier aspirations and an E Street glint in their eyes.

Next, it was off to the Custard party for a different sort of vibe. Uncannily transplanting a leather-wrapped Hollywood chic to the middle of Austin, Linda Perry and company's shindig was among the week's vibiest gatherings. Aside from The Crash Kings, Little Fish, and the not-on-Custard-but-still-in-the-family Nico Vega, the stunning Bigelf held court at Lanai above Congress St. Wrapping Pink Floyd open sky guitars with a rocker's sense of danger, there's a subtle glam to the band that's arresting. They are the new, weird LA in the best sense of the allusion.

Following an extended hang at my own Davis Shapiro party, I hit the street again, just missing a by-all-accounts amazing Arkells set, but at least making it over to an A&R heavy crowd at the Paradise for an exuberant set by Dizzy Balloon, followed by half of Glacier Hiking's set at the BMI showcase before Monte Negro hit the stage for sprawling and danceable romp through their best-loved songs. Other reports from around the street told of great sets by Fight Bite (great name) and The Asteroids Galaxy Tour (meh). The convergence of late start times boxed me out of my much-discussed Flower Travellin' Band set (guess I need to plan a trip to the Fuji-Rock Festival), the amazing Daniel Martin Moore and the lion's share of the Passion Pit show. After a quick stop at the Sub Pop showcase to see Handsome Furs, and kibitz casually with Todd Barry and Eugene Mirman (who I met in passing at a Sub Pop event earlier in the year—rest assured, I have not personally infiltrated hip comedy circles in any depth, although I do think it's cool that this component of SXSW has grown increasingly), it was time to hit the road once more. While I was pained to miss Local Natives at the Presbyterian Church, the mission at hand at that point was simple: Jane's Addiction at the Playboy/C3 party. As usual, I tried vainly to get seven people in with two passes, but was lucky enough to get escorted in by C3's Dave McDonough to catch the back-end of an utterly cavernous set. Eric Avery's return has brought an astounding new energy to the group that's fleshed out by an overwhelming air of control and confidence in their rendition of such well-loved material. They sound like a force of nature. There's a breadth and fury to their sound that makes this much more than a nostalgic exercise and hints at just how amazing the upcoming tour with Nine Inch Nails will be.

The subtle joy of tonight was actually my BlackBerry's magical ability to soldier on more or less without batteries for five hours. It was like the electronic version of the miracle of Hanukah. For a town where cell reception is dodgy at best (by now the best, presumably not apocryphal "oops" story I've heard this year is the fact that overwhelming flock of iPhones at the Interactive Conference crazed AT&T's towers), it was nice to be able to do the "dude where r u" texts long enough to make it through the evening. Small victories and big rock—another great night in Austin.