As y’all probably know, The Strokes marked their comeback to live performance in four years with a not-so-secret secret show at the tiny club Dingwalls in London, UK tonight, playing under the name “Venison”.
Some super lucky superfans have already put up videos of the performance. Join me in the full “Wish I Was There Experience”.
Setlist according to this Twitpic by T and NME:
NYC Cops/ The Modern Age/ Hard to Explain/ Reptilia/ Whatever Happened/ You Only Live Once/ Soma/ Vision of Division/ I Can’t Win/ Is This It/ Someday/ Red Light/ Last Nite/ Under Control/ 12:51/ Juicebox/ Heart in a Cage/ Take It or Leave It
Julian Casablancas sported a look not too dissimilar from the studded leather jacket + sunglasses indoors look that dominated his solo tour and Nick Valensi wore something that barely looked like a tank top over his sweaty body.
One of the things that made me laugh the hardest whilst reading the New York Magazine feature on the making of Lady Gaga was the fact that La Gaga was more or less discovered because circa 2006, a producer named Rob Fusari was “interested in locating a female singer to front a band like the Strokes.”
After hearing her sing, Fusari told NY Mag that he noticed “she didn’t have that kind of undersinging character voice of Julian Casblancas” and immediately “dropped the Strokes thing right away.”
He was sporting his latest style (as seen in the “Boombox” video) — with the blue and red stripes and the feather in his hair. The rest of the look included a white and black striped tank top, slim red pants, white Nike high tops and a studded leather jacket.
Julian and the band played a mix of songs off the album (“Ludlow Street”, “Glass” — probably one of my favorite songs off the album, “Out of the Blue”), B-sides (“30 Minute Boyfriend”, “I’ll Try Anything”), and even a new song (simply called “New One” for now), but it was the one-off tunes that really got the crowd going crazy.
For example, when the first few bars of “Hard to Explain” started up, everyone’s ears instantly perked up, and the crowd started cheering. By the time the chorus hit, folks were happily jumping up and down and I’m sure it brought back a lot of fond memories for some of the old-timers (like me) in the crowd. After the song was over, Julian jokingly announce that “that was a new one.”
Another surprise was during the encore when Julian explained that they were about to play a song that people seemed to really like — even though it was off season — breaking into his cover version of the SNL song “I Wish It Was Christmas Today.”
Julian even took it upon himself to do a stage dive or two into the crowd, proving that despite being older, sober, and a new father the guy still has what it takes to be a rock star. He made jokes about how things have changed, yet stayed the same — stating that he had seen so many shows at the venue — “Irving Plaza, or whatever this place is called.” Continue reading “Julian Casablancas @ The Fillmore, March 24th”
If you follow me on Facebook / Twitter, you probably noticed how I totally freaked out last night when absentmindedly watching SNL with host Jude Law.
(This was after my earlier freak out in the evening when I saw actor (and celebrity blogger) Michael Kenneth Williams — aka “Omar Little” from The Wire — playing a would-be terrorist on Law & Order.)
The reason was Julian Casablancas induced — as soon as I heard the begining beats of “Boombox,” the song which Julian guested on for the Lonely Island album, Incredibad, I knew what was coming — hilarity and awesomeness.
Not only were all the scenes described in the song acted out, but Julian is sporting this hideously weird side rat tail hair with the multicolors — but staying on trend and totally making it work. I’m convinced, Julian Casablancas owns neo-80s style. But probably my favorite moment is at the end when Julian smashes a flower pot and declares that “a boombox is not a toy.” [UPDATE: Reader Melissa pointed out that there is actually a “Boombox” shirt being sold on the Lonely Island site. Rock it!]
Check out the video and you will not be disappointed:
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.
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.)
Over a steaming bowl of pork ramen at Momofuku, Julian talks briefly about some of the issues that have plagued the Strokes in the past (“We split the money six ways, but we didn’t split the work.”), his disappointment in RCA (“They’re nice, they’re cool, but honestly they don’t do shit.”), and why he prefers NYC over LA (“L.A. is a vortex…I’m glad I got out of there.”).
All in all a pretty good interview, the photos are nice, and it sounds like Julian is happy and excited about the two shows he’s doing this week. Exciting!
Sorry, this year’s holiday season has been especially hectic, but just a quick post: I saw this a couple nights ago on Jimmy Fallon — Julian Casablancas, Jimmy, and Horatio Sanz doing “I Wish It Was Christmas Today.” EPIC: