Julian Casablancas Swaggers, Sings, and Causes Swooning @ Terminal 5

UPDATE: Ok, so in talking about the show with some old Strokes fan friends, people have express surprise at the fact that I enjoyed the show so much because…well, it’s just not the same without all the other Strokes. To that point I say this: No, it’s not The Strokes, but in my opinion, Julian is pretty much one of the best things about the band in the first place, so going to see a Julian Casablancas show is kinda like a Strokes show, but without all the other distractions.

That said, Julian’s music is much different than the regular Strokes fare. I like to think his solo work is more pop-based, and a little bit more carefree than Strokes songs. I also think his lyrics are more playful, the song structure more complicated and interesting, and the imagery more vivid. Perhaps that’s more of a reflection of his maturation as a songwriter than anything else, but any way you slice it, the solo stuff is great and you should be so lucky to see him perform it live.

The show last night wasn’t as elaborate as the ones he did in his LA residency (you know, the one that he felt were a fiasco) which included set pieces, costume changes, and an intermission, but it was polished, smooth, and successful. He truly seemed like he was having fun, and the crowd was enjoying it.

He seemed relaxed and at ease with himself and the songs — a very different energy than the one I remember when he plays with The Strokes. At Strokes shows, so much of the show is propelled by each of the band member’s energy bouncing off and pushing one another forward. At a Julian Casablancas show it seems much more like Julian is puttering along, guiding his backup band, and the pace of the show with the slow and steady push of his own internal performance propeller.

I’ve read in some tweets and reviews that people have been disappointed with Julian’s “lack of energy” on stage and I’d like to address that here: People who have seen The Strokes perform already know that JC doesn’t have that same inclination to roam or run around the stage like a frenetic 5 year old (or people like Chris Martin). He’s always been the kind of performer to stay more stationary.

Nevertheless I have always found him compelling to watch on stage. I think the pro-JC camp would agree with me when I say that it seems as though his energy is more focused on vocal expression than physical expression. He also can give a pretty mean intense stare. But he does have a physicality to his performance. With The Strokes his familiar moves seem to come from a place of internal aggression — the impassioned lapel grab, the back foot stomp, and the hand hitting side of the head move. As a solo artist, he seems to be a lot more fluid — his moves were more likely to swing on the side of a breezy waltz across the stage rather than a storming charge to-and-fro. Relaxed? Yes. Boring? No.

Toward the end of the performance he stepping into the crowd, much to the dismay of the event security staff, and before heading backstage he took the time to walk down the front of the stage and shake the outstretched hands in front of him — like some kind of rock star presidential candidate. All I know is he seemed quite happy — he tweeted “Thank you guys!” to his fans directly after the show — as did the audience, and that’s good enough for me.

RELATED LINKS: Saw my friends at Stereogum at the show, so please check out their review and photos once they’re up! Also check out coverage by Metromix, NY Press, 32f/second, Time Out NY

Just came back from an awesome show at Terminal 5 courtesy of Mr. Julian Casablancas. Julian seemed overwhelmed by the warm greeting from the audience, thanking the crowd several times throughout the performance.

JC and the band blew through nearly all the songs on Phrazes for the Young, including “11th Dimension”, “Glass”, “Ludlow Street”, “Out of the Blue”, “River Of Brakelights”, and “4 Chords of the Apocalypse.” They also threw in some covers — notably a version of “Velvet Snow” by Kings of Leon and yes — an actual cover version of a Strokes song (albeit a b-side) called “I’ll Do Anything Once” as the encore. (See below.)

A fan tries to reach for JC before getting carted off by security.

The crowd was not sated with just the one bonus song, so they continued to clap even though the lights had already come up and JC and Co. relented by coming onstage one more time to play the final song of the evening, a version of “Tourist.”

Tees, CDs, and LPs for sale at the merch table.

Just before slinking off stage, Julian sang a couple bars of “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, a tribute to his beloved hometown.

Published by Laura

I run The Modern Age.org

13 replies on “Julian Casablancas Swaggers, Sings, and Causes Swooning @ Terminal 5”

  1. Show was amazing! He was so appreciative of the crowd and the atmosphere was alive!

    He sounded great too…simply put…amazing!

  2. I thought it was soooo good. So much energy and he was so happy! I think he thought it’d be half empty and people would boo or something. He seemed free and completely humbled. Aww Jules…

    To the haters who continue to compare his stuff with The Strokes – why? What’s the point? Can’t you enjoy music for what it is without having to constantly compare it to something else? Lighten up, dudes.

  3. “a Julian Casablancas show is kinda like a Strokes show, but without all the other distractions”

    wow, I’ve never thought of a Strokes show as a Julian Casablancas show with distractions…

  4. i totally agree with you about the dynamics of the show’s energy… at a strokes show jules is always more, what seems to me to be, self-critical… though that aspect of his performing personality did come out a little last night, he seemed so relaxed and in control of his show and genuinely happy to be there. it was like seeing someone after not seeing them for 3 years and they’ve matured so much. i was so happy for him when he was so happy.

  5. Per usual, completely agree with your review MMA. The show was invigorating. I didn’t have high hopes — potentially-snarky NYC crowd with daggers at the ready, a five year lapse in performing here, etc etc. But Jules delivered. His vocals were strong, he looked amazing, and the synergy between he and the crowd was phenom. Very compelling performance. Could this foreshadow the end of aloof concert-going in NYC?! I can only hope.

  6. Jules you whore I bought that shirt for 25 at your SF gig. hahahha oh well lovelovelove to Julian + The Strokes.

    PS The Strokes are much much more than Julian. =(

  7. Ok, I know I know, The Strokes ARE so much more than Julian… I was just in Julian defend mode. I don’t necessarily mean the other band members are “distractions” but for the first time I was able to really solely concentration on Julian’s performance without having my attentions split 5 different ways… that’s all I’m saying.

  8. Oh and as for the prices of the t-shirts, yup, they were $20. I thought I remembered them costing more on the website, so I figured we were getting a hometown discount. 😉

Comments are closed.