Let’s just say Gary Numan was not the first, or even the last, name we expected to see as South by Southwest came to an anticlimactic end on Saturday night. Billed as the marquee headliner of Moog’s synth-heavy showcase, the former Tubeway Army frontman reminded a packed room of what appeared to be actual fans why industrial icons like Trent Reznor have sung his praises for years. And he didn’t just rely on classic records like Replicas and The Pleasure Principle, either. This being SXSW, Numan had a new album to push upon unsuspecting viewers; lucky for him, last year’s Splinter LP translates very well in a live setting, sounding more like, well, Nine Inch Nails than the work of the nearly 60-year-old guy who made “Cars.” Even Numan’s mannerisms — lots of melodramatic mic stand moves and brooding-but-never-overbearing bouts of melancholy — recall Reznor’s these days, suggesting that the student may well have become the teacher over the past couple decades.
Check out our front-row shots from the end of the night in the slideshow above, as well as a look at Numan’s polar opposite in scope and audience: Burger Records’ annual four-stage takeover of the Hotel Vegas compound on the east side of Austin.