Tori Amos – La Zona Rosa
Almost a legend already, and far from the end of her career, Tori Amos had her own evening slot at La Zona Rosa, switching between two pianos (one electric/one full grand) rendering new tracks and old classics to one of the most riveted crowds thus far this year at SXSW. Of her earlier fare were “Crucify” and the gorgeous “Silent All These Years,” which although a mere sampling of the great cuts she could have played, her adoring fans were undaunted. For the new tracks from her forthcoming album, most exciting of which was a long story about a teenage boy wanting to have a young girl spend the weekend with him entitled “Mary Jane.” For almost a twenty year career Amos is a vision, stunning and charismatic, playing her piano(s) with a restraint and knack for timing that is enrapturing.
The Black Lips – Cedar Street Courtyard
The Black Lips, a band that has slowly been building its reputation over the last few years of SXSW, are poised for a breakthrough. Evolving into a form of psycho garage similar to early material from The Hives, filled the Cedar Street Courtyard completely. Rolling clangy guitar riffs out like there was no other way they were ever meant to be played, the group sang in unison, “Do you really want to hold my dirty hand?” Another tune, “We’re Happy Now” featured a thunderous, cacophonous finale. Most striking amidst the many pros to list of the band, is that much like The Clash, although none of the members have voices that sound good in the conventional sense, it doesn’t matter one bit. It all gels in a way that’s grabbing and catchy.
Kraak and Smaak – Vice
It’s a great time to be a fan of dance music. Between the harsher (MSTRKRFT), the calculated (Hot Chip) and the room shaking (Justice), to boogie down is again a good thing. Let’s hope that this time two years from now, we’ll be counting Kraak and Smaak among those new titans of the genre. The band live is comprised of keyboards, bass, live drums, a person to cue and sequence electronics and a cast of no less than three rotating singers. As Kraak and Smaak wove tapestries of playful and joyous melodies varying between late 80’s dancehall and Brazilian tropicalia, the varying singers kept the momentum moving and the crowd loved every second of it.
Jane’s Addiction – C3/Playboy – Rock the Rabbit Party
What can be said of this? Seeing Jane’s Addiction–and not an approximated lineup, nay all four original members Eric Avery, Perry Farrell, Stephen Perkins and Dave Navarro–is like witnessing the rebirth of a giant. It’s almost surreal and undeniably magical.
The incomparable Eric Avery opened it all off with the epic opening bass notes to their masterpiece “Three Days,” as the band slowly formulated the song’s vital coda. It’s worth mentioning, Avery might be one of the most valuable bassists alive. While not show-y or flashy in any way, it’s evident in his demeanor the sheer concentration and care he gives to every note. It’s simply stunning to see him in his element, anchoring and balancing the other elements of Jane’s Addiction’s music. Following suit with essential Nothing’s Shocking tracks “Standing in the Shower… Thinking” with its meandering walking rhythm and “Ted, Just Admit It” with its defiant calls of “Sex is violent,” the cavernous abandoned safeway housing the show was ecstatic through, and through.
The further they went, the more comfortable Perry and the band seemed, playfully rocking through hits “Mountain Song” (nothing can top Stephen Perkins’ drumroll) and “Been Caught Stealing” (which nearly the whole room chanted along with) without losing ounce of stride, or one iota of flawless execution. Jane’s Addiction used their encore to end with force and power, opting for the expansive “Ocean Size” and unforgettable “Stop.” Damn, it’s good to have Jane’s Addiction back. The return of the king? It just might be.