SXSW Live: Perry Farrell and the Satellite Party at Stubb's

Categories: Live


Jensen didn't have a camera, so this was this night before at the Parish. If we had a copy of PhotoShop, we'd play paperdoll and give him a new shirt.

Perry Farrell at Stubb's, Austin, Texas
Date: Friday, March 17
Better than: Seeing Nuno Bettencourt play with Extreme
Rating: 6.7

Stalking. Shimmying. Hands-on-hips swivels. Tight-ass visible through blinding glitter pants. Just play one of the old ones and we’ll eat out of your hands.

Perry Farrell’s back catalog gives him the right to make those giant gestures onstage —grandiose, tai-chi movements, arms cutting through the air as if altering time and space. We allow the ass-shaking. It’s ok. It’s Perry. He might play one of the old ones. You know, the songs that alternated between pumping your blood white-hot agro and getting the mood set for a threesome. That cred let us forgive that he’s allowing his wife, Etty, be onstage as a backup singer in his new band, Satellite Party. We’re cool. We had the same contract with McCartney: just play a few of the old ones, and we’ll look past Linda on keyboards (the big difference being Perry’s wife is built like Pamela and moves like Jameson). Skin and bones and pointy nose. And 40-something? It’s alright.
Perry’s power-of-life stage proclamations: “What’s up family? Family of Light lands in Austin Texas, and oooooooooooooo, what a gentle landing it was. I almost feel like I am still floating” would be embarrassing if not for that back catalog—that, and the confidence we all have in knowing that he actually believes that shit.

But it’s been a long time since Perry wrote the accompanying soundtrack to our life-altering events. We must always remember: David Lee Roth has a great back catalog as well. Fifteen years is a wide-open window for self-parody.

Farrell’s Satellite Party is meant to be a collection of artists—Steve Lillywhite, Flea and John Frusciante, New Order’s Peter Hook, Fergie, Jim Morrison (yes)—experimenting with new sounds and creating a hybrid category of music. It won’t change the world. Won’t change your life. But it has more promise than Perry’s previous post-Janes’ projects.

On stage last night was Perry’s new guitarist (and co-producer) Nuno Bettencourt. Seeing the guy who wrote “Get the Funk Out,” performing half windmills on “Ain’t No Right,” was a bit unnerving, but the guy from Extreme has the chops, if not the subtleties to lay down something ethereal for Perry to float above. Dave Navarro was influenced by Robert Smith (you can hear The Cure all over “Three Days”); Nuno was influenced by Eddie Van Halen. It shows onstage, and Perry will have to rope him in every so often.

Though Perry has been talking a lot of hip-hop in this new rock-and -roll-can-save-the-world blender project, the sound was just not there. Reggae? Check. Middle eastern ? A bit. Psychedelia? Sure. If Perry is so enamored of hip-hop and DJs, he should have a live one onstage.

But that didn’t matter last night. After two days of seeing the young and old prowl around, stare at the floor, try to act tough, try to act rock star, the crowd at Stubb's was dying to see the real deal.

Perry delivered. He commanded. Few knew these songs, but the band was solid. And there was a rock star. So much so, that your eyes were drawn more to Perry than his skirt-up-to-there/chest-out-to-here muse on his right.

The hard-charging “Insanity Rains,” was hard not to like. “Ultrapayloaded Satellite Party,” merged Spanish guitars with a Middle Eastern flair. Yes, the show seemed to have peaked at the old song he graced us with: “Ain’t No Right.”

But the “Mountain Song”-like intro to set closer “Celebrate,” teased the crowd into thinking another old one was coming. When the disappointment wore off, we instead got a killer closer, full of Perry’s life-affirming mumbo, only now, the audience was participating. It was the highlight of the evening—something new and not just unhorrible, but potentially great—and offered promise that this thing might just work.
“I just want to grab you by the hair and fuck you,” Perry told the audience near the end of the set. By that stage of the game, half of the crowd would have let him.

Random quote: “If I wanted to see four guys jerk off surrounding a chick with big tits, I would have gone on the internet. Not pay 40 bucks.”

— Bill Jensen
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