The Strokes Blow Up The Spot (And That’s No Hype!)
On Friday night at Metro, the Strokes ran every route in the rookie rock star playbook. They played the waiting game with their sold out crowd, booked an impossibly shitty band as an opener, performed behind a shroud of smoke, and even fell off the stage, just like alleged burgeoning rock icons should. Thusly, you could call them prima donnas. You could even be like the dude in front of me, and scream out “You make me hate rock and roll!”
Or you could have shut the fuck up about the hype, the hair, and the RCA cheese, and reveled in the series of real rock moments that the NYC quintet tossed off with casual efficiency and genuine dedication – just like real rock icons should.
The Strokes don’t just wear their influences on their sleeves – they went to St Vincent DePaul and scrounged up the whole damn suit. And so what? When they finally emerged from backstage about 2am, and Julian Casablancas keeled over his mic stand, promptly misjudging the lip of the stage during the set opener, all of their Velvet Underground tendencies and New York accoutrements mattered little. The band that has J.Lo’s PR types scratching their skulls detonated their own hype and kicked the debris into the balcony, right in the faces of all the pretty people politely cheering with their pinkies raised. An obviously inebriated Casablancas could give a shit about celebrity guests or the slicked-back gold card humps that clogged the cramped environs of Metro. Performing their bare-bones catalog in 45 sweaty, tightly-wound moments, Casablancas, dueling guitarists Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond, Jr, drummer Fab Moretti and bassist Nikolai Fraiture pretty much made each of their 12 songs sound like a true anthem. Casablancas’ vocal – a sandpaper-y cross between Lou Reed and Morrissey – weaved in between the two guitars’ soloing and the rhythm section’s admirable groove, even as his motor skills failed him to the point that he must have leaned on each of his comrades at least twice during the set.
Towards the end of the set, Our Fair Singer pushed the dirty, sullen mop out of his eyes. Introducing “New York City Cops,” a track removed from the forthcoming Is This It? LP in the wake of September 11 (subsequently pushing the release of the record back to October 9), Casablancas was sincere through his drunkenness. “People have been writing some shit about this next song,” he slurred. “Yeah, well, we were fucking there, man, we were fucking there, okay? [And all we’re trying to do] is be confident!” With that, The Strokes launched into “New York City Cops,” a song that would only be misconstrued as offensive by those who tend to make decisions without even hearing the music. The number burned like white phosphorus, and followed up by “Take It Or Leave It,” The Strokes left the stage with a one-two punch of hard-edged, REAL rock and roll that showed their true colors as passionate musicians and — perhaps — future rock icons.
Too much has been written about the Strokes’ stylish pedigree, both by this website and other outlets (Hello, Rolling Stone.) But if Friday night’s show proved anything, it’s that the band can talk the talk. The group’s reverence for its NYC rock forbearers is obvious, both in print and in person. But what about Albert Hammond, Jr’s stage moves on lead guitar, those that recalled Joe Perry, or even Slash? Those guys aren’t New Yorkers. What about the obvious New Wave influences in the precision of the songs and Valensi’s high strung, frenetic rhythm guitar? I swear I heard the Housemartins floating around in there. And the whole band’s underlying groove of booze, love, and anger remind me as much of Mission of Burma’s “That’s When I Reach For My Revolver” as they do of Television or The Ramones. There’s the rub: For months, we’ve been hearing all about the Strokes, without really hearing – really listening to – the music itself. Though the group’s fantastic plastic hype machine will undoubtedly help it sell records, it’s fire-in-the-belly performances like what took place on Friday night that will really make them rock stars. After all, something’s going down in music these days. Pop is dead, Nu Metal is over, and Hip Hop’s wack clown princes are marginalizing the form’s true artists. Rock and Roll never died, but a group like the Strokes – with their energy, simple enthusiasm, and of course their drunken antics – can certainly help the Rock get back on track, and reap the benefits of what it has sown.
Note: Sting will be glad to hear that I officially hate Moldy Peaches more than he and his soulless corporate whore yuppie rock. Moldy Peaches are a duo from New York City who I had the nauseous fortune to stand through while waiting for The Strokes to take the stage Friday. Remember that geeky neighbor kid that always tried to hang out with you and your friends growing up? The one that copped all your bits, tried to hang but couldn’t, and had food stuck in his braces? Well, New York City’s Moldy Peaches are that kid, if he listened through the wall while Beat Happening, The Vaselines, Frank Zappa, and The Flaming Lips practiced. A bastardized, shitty version of these venerable artists, The Moldy Peaches are the worst thing I’ve paid money for since dollar dances at the Ypsilanti Déjà Vu. Kimya Dawson and Adam Green, two dopes riding a very different New York pedigree than that of the Strokes, came off like The Frogs or Ween if those groups put their wicked senses of humor in a cryogenic chamber and received a year of free lobotomies. Unfunny, unoriginal, and utterly horrible, The Moldy Peaches are the worst thing to happen to music since Fred Durst had kids. You’ve been warned.
27 thoughts on “The Strokes: Fell in Love with You before the Second Show”
I read an interview with Moldy Peaches in Rolling Stone (who do these people know???) and they just sounded like a couple of goofy college kids with funny costumes. Were they completely awful or just not the calibre of group you’d want at sucha highly anticipated show?
The Moldy Peaches were completely awful. Their costumes weren’t funny. Their band – acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass, and drums – were sufficiently adept, yet the music was so stupid that their chops were rendered meaningless. Lyrics that poked fun at the Indie Rock world were mixed with cheap sex jokes and swears that had the weaker-minded in the crowd snickering like 4th graders. Overall, The Moldy Peaches came off like a group of high school art students playing their first gig at a pep rally. Horrible.JTL
Re your comment “There’s the rub: For months, we’ve been hearing all about the Strokes, without really hearing – really listening to – the music itself.” I guess I’m bummed that you (or those you speak of) hadn’t a chance to hear them before this show.I saw them open for Doves at Double Door in March, having not heard or heard of them before. They opened with “Barely Legal” and I was immediately hooked by the dual rhythm guitars, cool key changes and a tight tight 35 min. performance–so surprised was I that the next day I was scouring Napster and Limewire for anything I could find by them because I needed to hear those songs again!So I guess I’m lucky that I was digging The Strokes before the hype-machine began. I’m glad now that they’re getting the press; now let’s hope some of our God-awful commercial FM stations in Chicago get a clue and start playing them.Hint: WLUW (88.7) is really good at requests. Call ’em to hear some Strokes!
I think that’s exactly why the Strokes are experiencing the backlash from Indie rock. Their hype machine really went into overdrive. They were featured inside or on the cover of so many magazine before the album came out that it just came off as merely hype…nothing more. Thank God the Strokes can back up that hype with heartstopping live shows and a killer album. If they were just 10% less than they are, they’d be crucified.
I totally agree, that album is nothing short of a masterpiece. The simple fact is they are a truly awesome rock n roll band, which the world hasnt seen in much too long.The more hype the better in my book.Does anyone have any info on tour dates for early next year? Are they gonna gig in Dublin?I fucking hope so, I’m dying to see em live.I’m especially fond of “Sometimes”:”My ex says I’m lacking in depth,I will do my best….”Magic.
the album is NOT a masterpiece. It’s just a good, back to basics rock record. I’ve had the import release since I could get my hands on it here in the states and I really do like it. Elevating them to some kind of ridiculous rock saint-hood, however, is a JOKE! Bands need to put together a couple of great records before they deserve that.Everybody, keep your pants on!Scotty
I’ve listened to it a few times all the way through now, and I really like it. It’s a really good album. I hear a lot more New Wave influence than VU influence though. I don’t think Casablancas sounds much like Lou Reed other than the way he says “Aww” and “Oooh” in some of the songs. I also like how the songs don’t all sound the same. It’s good. I can’t wait to hear more from them. While the album doesn’t necessarily live up to the hype (what album possibly could?), it’s still very cool.
Rock on Jake. I hear lots of New Wave, too.Re anointing the STrokes rock saviors: I’m not, and I think my article made the point that the band has the TOOLS to be real rock stars, but it will take some time (and lots more amazinglive performances) to actually be rock icons/saviors. I think we can all agree that it really doesn’t matter if they save rock and roll or not: their recorded output is real damn good, and on that basic level the Strokes have succeeded where a lot of bands don’t.JTL
It’s too bad that we get so few really good Rock (I use a capital ‘R’) albums each year. For the record, I hear the New Wave too! scotty
who the hell are the strokes? and why the fuck should i care? so, they’re the second coming of the velvets. they’ve got the swagger of television. the grit of the ramones. and the quirk of the talking heads. am i supposed to be impressed? yeah, i dug all the bands listed above, but that doesn’t mean i want a neatly packaged compilation band. why don’t i just invest in the aformentioned bands’ back catalogs and special packaged dvd comps to get the feel of the real thing? i don’t need no revisionist cha cha to get my groove on. so what if they’re pretty and ready for the celebrity microscope of mtv. hell, they could all be scrumping jancee dunn for all i care. big deal. meet the new thing, same as the old thing. hot funk, cool punk, even if it’s old junk. it’s still rock and roll to me.
Ouch, references to Billy Joel and Bob Fosse? Thanks for the post, but I’ll keep listening to the Strokes and kickin’ it out NYC style.
billy joel is nyc style.
The Strokes and The Moldy Peaches are 2 of my favorite albums this year(with The White Stripes being in the #1 position) It’s a shame people aren’t seeing The Moldy Peaches for the true beauty that they are. In hard realty times such as these, a little Moldy Peaches goes a long way. Get a sense of humor before it’s too late.
But Billy Joel ain’t kickin’ it out. Never has.
the moldy peaches are great! i am so sorry for you… you must be such a sad empty person… and whoever else is reading this, if you haven’t heard the moldy peaches, go ahead and give it a try at http://www.moldypeaches.com and make up your own mind. and don’t listen to this mean, heartless guy.
The Moldy Peaches is that kid that was trying to hang out with in high school, back when you reached the peak of your cool. Now that they’ve seen you working at the local Safeway, they aren’t interested in chillin’ anymore. Don’t sleep on The Moldies. There’s gold in them there hills.-Morton
Johnny Anus and I don’t share the same taste in music, I guess… The Moldy Peaches are great! They make beautiful, honest, funny music. It makes me mad to hear folks put them down. They make their music for all of the geeky neighborhood kids of the world who have been teased by wannabe hipsters like Johnny Anus. It makes sense that he wouldn’t like them. He wears his know-it-all machismo like a puddle of rancid drool on his sleeve. When I see The Moldy Peaches live or hear them on record, they make me happy in a way that very few other bands can. Don’t listen to Johnny Anus! Check out the Moldy Peaches sometime and judge for yourself!And let’s talk about The Strokes. The Strokes, oh yeah, The Strokes. I like them OK, and I saw them in NYC back in the day before they released any records. They make fun cool rock and roll. It’s funny though, the whole Strokes hype phenomenon reminds me of similar shit that happened with Jonathan Fire*Eater many years ago (anyone remember them?). They were a NYC band that put on great shows and sounded like a post modern Doors with all of their sexual swagger and dirty NYC energy. Like the Strokes, they were a bunch of cute, rich boys who levereged their privilege into a big foaming ball of hype before everything backlashed against them and they (at least their front-man) imploded into a ball of drug abuse (or so I heard). The Strokes are cool just like Jonathan Fire*Eater was. I just hope they stick around long enough to write some better songs and don’t get swept away by their own hype tornado.
Well, Breezy, Morton, and My Robot Friend, I’m glad that someone out there is buying Moldy Peaches records, because myself and the 800 or so other people in the audience last Friday who were screaming obscenities at the stage sure aren’t.Weird Al makes “beautiful, honest, funny music.” I’ll stick with him.Sincerely,Johnny Anus
Johnny, not only has the Robot Friend given you the most punk rock pseduonym I’ve ever heard, but he also came up with the ideal blurb for your bio: “He wears his know-it-all machismo like a puddle of rancid drool on his sleeve.”Robot, you rule. Keep checking in to make sure Johnny Anus doesn’t step out too far out of line!
The moldy Peaces represent everything good and wholesome in the world. When people say “I don’t like the moldy peaches” what they’re really saying is “OOOOh uuuhh oh yeah my opinions aren’t nearly as strong as the burly croatian pumping my bum with his world reknowned dildo shaped head” The real tragedy here is the loss of innocence. Small minded people running out of their caves to shake thier furry fists at the bright shining enigmatic moon that is the Moldy Peaches. Maybe some day these people will become like the wind and blow me.God Bless the tender juicy flesh of moldy peaches!
I really can spell pseudonym.
I really can spell pseudonym.
Moldy Peaches are doing something new — sure the strokes, and hippster kids etc. etc — all of this has been done. MP along with some other NYC based bands I have seen are doing something different & honest, they are redefining the folk tradition, this is music NOW …(they are also really fun live, and have gotten much better since their European tour) So for all those who don’t get it, you are missing out on music in the making…
Seriously, the Moldy Peaches are where it’s at, check them out and you’ll be glad you did.
The reviewer’s comments about the Moldy Peaches would have more validity if his writing weren’t so poor and if his dislike had been better explained. Yeah, they’re dorks and they’ll be the first to admit that, but at least they did something positive about it and learned how to write really good, really catchy songs. I defy you to write a song as well-structured as “Steak for Chicken”, where Adam and Kimya sing different but related lyrics simultaneously. Their writing is miles ahead of Weird Al, who’s arguably not even a songwriter. Yeah, the Moldy Peaches sing about sex and farts and Nintendo; so what? It’s not banal and it’s certainly cooler than a rock reviewer who calls himself “Johnny Anus”. Their music is direct and child-like, but so’s Jonathan Richman. “Yelling obscenities at the stage”? Grow up.
And let’s talk about The Strokes. The Strokes, oh yeah, The Strokes. I like them OK, and I saw them in NYC back in the day before they released any records.
Hello you. I actually love The Strokes and The Moldy Peaches in equalish amounts. I would have thought for a band to support some bigger name, they would be liked by them, or have something in common!