Part of the South by Southwest experience comes from embracing the unexpected. That's exactly what I did after watching a set by Brooklyn's Caveman at a daytime party. I wandered out back and found that there was another room that featured live music. So, I looked to see who was coming on next -- and it was Camper Van Beethoven.

I hadn't seen this band, with strong roots in Santa Cruz, perform in a couple of years, so I stuck around and was impressed with how good it still sounds. The influential alt-rock troupe, which first came to prominence in the mid-'80s, still features most of its original members — including vocalist David Lowery.

I loved hearing the band perform some of its classics — especially "Take the Skinheads Bowling," which remains one of the most fun tunes ever laid to wax. Yet, it was also nice hear Camper Van Beethoven play some tunes from the newly released "La Costa Perdida," which is the band's first album since 2004's "New Roman Times."

Lowery and crew certainly haven't lost their touch.

Follow Jim Harrington at http://twitter.com/jimthecritic.