“Everyone who’s under 30 is probably sick of hearing how great the Clash was,” Billy Bragg told the crowd at the Utne Reader party at South by Southwest as he introduced his new tune “Old Clash Fan Fight Song.” It’s not just younger folks, Billy: Just last week, Utne editor in chief Dave Schimke told me he didn’t want to hear one more word about Joe Strummer, the heavily lionized subject of a recent biography and documentary.
The ghost of the Clash was everywhere at South by Southwest, however. I saw it in the black armband worn by the singer for the hard-rocking L.A. band Monte Negro. I heard it in the energetic reggae-punk of the Aggrolites, another L.A. outfit. And plenty of SXSW attendees, yes, some of them under 30, wore T-shirts that celebrated the band.
Then I saw something that was no ghost: Carbon/Silicon, the new band fronted by the Clash’s Mick Jones. Playing to an appreciative crowd at the Austin Convention Center, Jones proved that he’s not living in the past as he and his band ripped through a blazing set that left the crowd awed and sated. Their beefy, guitar-drenched tunes ran on punk energy and crafty pop hooks, with Jones and fellow guitarist Tony James clearly relishing their return to the spotlight (James was in iconic punk band Generation X).
For us old Clash fans, it was a thrill to see Jones enjoying himself so much and still delivering the goods. Carbon/Silicon isn’t just a hobby or a lame attempt at a comeback, but a real band, and a very good one at that. Jones promised that they’d be touring the U.S. soon. “We’re coming to your house—everybody’s house,” he quipped. Don’t miss them when they come knocking.