Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Strokes Post #534 (CONCERT REVIEW!)

My older brother wanted to take me to Vegas for my twenty-first birthday. A bunch of my friends insisted on taking me dancing. I told each and every one of them the same thing—I would be celebrating my birthday by seeing The Greatest Band That Ever Was just 5 days after the fact and that was enough for me. So after a long day of work last Monday, I had a relaxed evening with my roommates and a bottle of rum, and eagerly awaited the forthcoming Saturday.

That, ladies and gentlemen, would be LAST NITE.

I have seen many, many concerts in my day. Big bands, small bands, shitty bands and ones that blow you out of the water. But I had never seen The Strokes.

And now I know that the two times I saw Julian in concert for Phrazes really don’t count.

The Strokes were majestic. Rock G-ds. Precision, perfection, what have you. Watching them perform was like watching a rock DVD compiled of all of a band’s best live performances. But this was one night. This was one set. This was life, as we know it.

I think the best thing about The Strokes is their consistency. Even in the days when Julian was completely out of his mind, they still would deliver impeccable sets and rock the house down. I don’t think there is any other band that has such a phenomenal batch of songs that allows them to play puppet-master with the fans’ emotions as they follow “Is This It” with “Vision of Division”.
Yes, they played “Vision of Division”.

Even though I was itching to hear “Alone Together”, I honestly could not have been happier about the set list. And though I kind of wanted them to start with “Hard to Explain”, their now canonical “NYCC” was definitely the right choice. This is why I love this band. Because they know things. More than critics. More than other musicians. More than their fans.

Nothing can describe the incandescence I experienced seeing Albert tilt his head back in rugged concentration, Fab pound away like there is no tomorrow, Nick shredding like the deity that he is and Nikolai standing as the forceful, solid root—immovable and central to the band’s very structural integrity. Except, ironically, when he went behind a curtain to grab some champagne during his big song, the subtle yet thrilling eponymous opener to their debut, "Is This It".

And Julian. Oh Julian. “I heard you guys yelling ‘one more song!’. Be careful what you wish for.”

By this time, the guy in front of me had lit a cigarette. That basically sums it up. The boys from NY sucked the life force out of us, and we were not about to complain.

The Strokes played like there was no yesterday and no tomorrow. Now I know why I never got upset with all of the album IV setbacks. Because it doesn’t matter. Because this way, I got to see them perform 8 out of the 11 songs on my all time favourite record. And because, quite simply, The Strokes are THE GREATEST.

The music was perfect and the lights were an excellent accompaniment, especially during VoD. Their encore combined raw power with uninhibited joyful expression. “Someday” had the playful Pacman aesthetic that brought up memories of the arcade in the music video. But I don't think they have ever played "Juicebox" the way they did last night. SO LOUD, SO POWERFUL.

They all looked so happy. Especially Nick.

The whole night was a culmination of all of their greatest moments as a band, without the cheesiness of a conventional reunion tour. Julian talked about the band’s early days, when “four people” would come out to watch them. He seemed genuinely perplexed as to how essentially all of Outside Lands’ patrons were vying to push up front to get closer to the stage. I don’t think any of them will ever grasp what they’ve done to music, to people, to the world.

Thank you for the greatest night of my life. I will never, ever forget my twenty-first birthday.

The Strokes played:
The Modern Age
Hard to Explain
What Ever Happened
Is This It
Vision of Division
I Can’t Win
Last Nite

Under Control
Take It Or Leave It

I’m sorry I didn’t take more video; the guards were being annoying and I honestly didn’t want to hold a camera the whole time.

I'll post more photos later.


Anonymous said...

That's beyond awesome Hanan. I'm so happy for you! And yay for Vision of Division!

Tara said...

I'm so, so glad you had an amazing time - so happy you've finally seen them! It brought me back to the Isle of Wight set and - ahh you just captured the feelings so well. Also belated happy birthday! There's no way 21 won't be an awesome year because you've started it in the best way I can possibly conceive of. Plus, y'know - you can legally drink now haha xxx

Anonymous said...

"Under Control" = EPIC!!!

Unknown said...

Thank you Hanan, thank you! Your review brought tears of joy to my eyes and made me feel as if I was there and turning 21 too. (You totally made the right call...lasvegasYUCK!...spent mine watching Lou Reed in SF on June 11th 1981!!!) And thank you for telling me that Nick was HAPPY! It makes me feel as if, whatever happens now, it will ALL be'll be okay, I'll be okay, and each of our boys, they especially, will be beautifully okay.

Olivia said...

BEST NIGHT OF MY LIFE!!!!! Happy birthday!!

Unknown said...

I just came in my pants and pissed myself at the same time while reading this. The show sounds fucking amazing, and I knew I could count on you to write a worthy review. I can't believe you're only 21, though. Jesus Christ.

electricturf said...

Happy belated birthday.

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday and I am seriously envious of you right now. ;)

Anonymous said...

Hey, I think I saw you at the concert during the day, waiting near the rail. With such great spots, maybe you should get a Flip Mino. It's much less noticeable to the guards than a digital camera and gets 720p instead of just 480p.

Unknown said...

most days i think this universe is just random unaligned chaos: but knowing stokesjunkie finally got to see the strokes live makes me believe our local stars align every once in a while. happy being 21 to you hanan.

Anahi said...

I have spent countless hours reading reviews about outside lands these last couple of days, and especially about the strokes. And I have not come across one like yours. Yours is the only one describing how I felt. This review definitely did justice to that epic, EPIC show. Great job man!