1. Wake up at an un g-dly hour to hop in your car and pick your brother up. Drive 550 miles from the Bay Area through the California/Nevada border to get to Las Vegas, city of entertainment. Pass through Mojave Desert, yell at squirrels.
2. Wait in line for 6 hours, get ushered in by rude staff toward line. Craftily bring your 17 year old brother to the 18+ show in the Chelsea Ball room, now converted with a stage to a concert venue on the fourth floor of the Cosmopolitan Hotel. Stand in the second row and realize that your younger brother is slowly drifting rows and rows behind you by rude and selfish concert goers.
3. Stand on your feet for two hours before opener Devendra Banhart comes on, listen to his band's short but sweet set (winding down at 10PM), in anticipation that The Strokes will be on soon. Then wait until 11PM for the headlining band to get out. In the process, enjoy being yelled and pushed and grabbed at by rabid Strokes fans, nearly all having traveled from far away places to see this great band.
4. Be grumpy, yell, mutter to yourself that this is the last time you try to be up front at a Strokes show and yell some more.
5. Be amazed by band in question, sweat your ass off, find yourself fifteen pounds lighter. Decide that all other ways of spending your time are fruitless, and start plotting your way to becoming the Deadhead equivalent of a Strokes fan (and eventually heroin-chic).
There’s something different about being at a Strokes show. People get there good and early, and nearly everyone breaks the cardinal rule of “don’t wear a band’s shirt to their concert”. You can talk and talk about The Strokes for hours with complete strangers who not only understand your (un?)healthy obsession with the perfection that is The Strokes, they reciprocate enthusiastically. People might push and shove and be taken out of the crowd from fainting, but at the end of the night, everyone is so elated that nothing else matters.
Last night, the Strokes played their first show in support of Angles, in
While most of us guessed that the band would open up with a new song or a familiar single, The Strokes kicked off the night with “I Can’t Win”, which was shortly followed by Julian bantering about how a lot of people in the room hate him, and things being out of his control. Was he talking about Angles or the extreme lateness of the band or both? It doesn’t matter. Because Julian Casablancas is one fifth of the greatest entity on earth, and he does not need to justify anything to anyone ever. And “I Can’t Win” is a good way to sum that up.
But the music the music the music. The band played four of the five songs which fans have heard and loved by now, including “You’re So Right”, “Taken for a Fool” “Life is Simple in the Moonlight” and the sweet as candy lead single “Under Cover of Darkness”. They did all of this during the first hour of the show, which Nick Valensi dominated by and far. Almost all of the songs (excluding “Under Control”) were Nick’s lead guitar songs, and he even brought a nifty spin to the beloved “Someday”. The spotlight on him was undeniable, especially during the mind boggling solos in the new songs.
Am I saying that The Strokes have become a polarized group, deifying a couple of members at the expense of the rest? No no no no no no no. Even though I know that a lot of people dislike “You’re So Right” (written by Nikolai but surprisingly with backup vocals from Nick), the live delivery of this song was stunning and powerful. I would go so far as to say that it was tied for best with “Life is Simple”. The newer songs all came off wonderfully live (least of which, however, "Taken for a Fool", although I do take partial responsibility for it not meeting my expectations, as I listened to the studio version way too much). I also do have to admit that the band needs to work on perfecting the sound quality coming from the amps for those songs, as they previously did with FioE. But back to my original point. The Strokes' long awaited fourth record (due out next Tuesday) is called Angles because supposedly they all contributed to it and it’s the beginning of a new era and yeah yeah yeah. But this is not supposedly true. It is absolutely true. The band’s dynamic during the set exemplified this. None of them overpowered any of the rest.
But wait, what about Nick? Didn’t he hog the spotlight? Let me just say this much. Nick, by sheer numbers, has more solos than Albert does. Nick’s contributions to Angles so far have been incredible and his mastery at playing the guitar continues to baffle me daily. But that’s not the point. The point is:
Nick might have had all eyes on him during the show, but Albert had all of the last glances.
The Strokes’ first encore song (after the smashing closer “Take it or Leave It”) was “Gratisfaction”. A brand new song. A brand new song with a new solo from Albert. And backing vocals from Albert (and Nick too). The song sounds like a Strokes version of a happy song from yesteryear. It’s light and effortless and magical. The most happy go lucky song I've ever heard from them. "Gratisfaction" is like a more badass version of Albert’s solo material, with Thin Lizzy and other 80's influences mixed in to a perfect vocal chorus by Julian. Nick’s guitar work might have driven and dominated the set, but Albert rocked the house down with TioLi. Three of the four encore songs were Albert's songs, including the rolicking "Last Nite", which ended the set. As the night was winding down at 12:15 AM, Albert looked toward Julian and grinned. He kept grinning as he played the solo in “Last Nite” really high in his arms. He was so happy. They all were.
Devendra Banhart called this band an amulet. I cannot emphasize how perfect that anology is.
I Can’t Win
Under Cover of Darkness
The Modern Age
New York City Cops
You’re So Right
Is This It
Taken for a Fool
Hard to Explain
Life is Simple in the Moonlight
Take It or Leave It
You Only Live Once
My camera broke a couple of weeks ago and the replacement still hasn’t arrived. I took pictures with my phone but only a few turned out well and then my phone died. I’m so sorry I didn’t get any video, I didn’t have enough power on my phone, and as I said, my camera with the divine audio quality is in the process of being replaced.Please accept this picture of an excited me in lieu of Strokes footage and better photographs
read SPIN's review here