I know it’s probably not cool to admit, but I was a huge Jane’s Addiction fan back in the day. I’m not talking about the post-rehab lineup, but rather the version that called it quits in 1991 after helping to midwife the “alternative” movement.
I’m fortunate to have seen the band a few times in its heyday, and I’ve yet to experience anything quite like a JA concert. You gotta understand that this was back when there was no “indie” or “alternative” — all the interesting music was simply labeled “college rock.” (I was only in high school, but I lapped this stuff up right along with Sabbath and Zeppelin.)
Jane’s shows attracted quite an interesting mix of people, from aging psychedelic rangers to punk-rockers to shredheads to goths. We were a sweaty mass of freaks soaking up Dave Navarro‘s trippy guitar virtuosity, Eric Avery‘s hypno-bass riffs, Stephen Perkins‘ tribal rhythms and the deviant beatitude of Perry Farrell (this was well before he became a self-parody; don’t get me started on Navarro.)
I caught JA’s second-to-last performance with the original lineup at the former Great Woods Amphitheater in Massachusetts, as part of the first Lollapalooza. I remember they took forever getting to the stage; I later found out that they were busy breaking up. When they finally got it together enough to come out, they slayed. That’s the way it was with Jane’s: they had this incredible chemistry that produced great music but was probably too volatile to maintain.
I never caught any of the “reunion” tours with the substitute bassists, because it somehow felt wrong. But I did pick up their 2003 album Strays, which made me miss Avery’s righteous low-end that much more. When they once again called it quits, I stopped paying attention — seeing ex-members systematically trash the band’s once-sterling reputation was too much for this fan to bear.
Last year, Jane’s reformed for a one-off show at the NME awards, this time with Avery on board. Although it was great to see the right man on bass, it still wasn’t quite the art-metal powerhouse of yore. This was partly because they tuned down a step, which stripped the basslines of their punch and muted Perry’s trademark banshee wail. Poor aging singers.
Now comes the news that Trent Reznor has been helping the boys with some new recordings. (Nine Inch Nails were among the bands on Lolla ’91, back when Trent had those ridiculous mini-braids. They played in broad daylight with full lighting and smoke machines, which looked fairly ridiculous.) This week, Trent dropped a note on his site about NIN going on hiatus following a summer tour with. . . you guessed it. . . the original Jane’s Addiction. No word yet on what will come out of those new JA sessions, but there is a box set scheduled for release in April.
Jane’s has been playing some small L.A. club shows, with the most recent taking place at Echoplex a couple of nights ago. Here’s a few fan vids, if you care:
“Ted Just Admit It”:
You can search out the rest of the set your damn self. There’s no “Three Days,” unfortunately — I’m guessing that one’s way out of Perry’s range these days. But I’m still gonna try to see them this summer. Sigh.