Hopefully the die-hard Strokes fans got their fix at the ACL pre-party at Stubbs on Thursday, when the band purportedly played a 45 minute set that fans waited two hours to see. On Friday, the band played most of the same songs in the exact same order, with Julian Casablancas delivering some of the exact same semi-lucid stage banter.
I wasn't at that Thursday night show though, and as soon as the Strokes strode onstage in skinny jeans and black leather jackets and began singing "Is This It?" I was blasted back into early 2000s. Actually, the set reminded me just how prevalent the Strokes were for the first half of the '00s. Though I hadn't listened to their Is This It debut for years, and had barely thought of their two follow-up albums, I weirdly knew all the lyrics to their songs.
Thanks to Casablancas, I was also blasted back to when I first saw the Strokes, in 2001-2002 era. They came on late, played the same four songs twice, interrupted by Casablancas trying to lasso the stage rafters with his mic cord, and ended abruptly. I'd heard somewhere that Casablancas since sobered up. At first his performance seemed evidence of clean living, when he did pause between songs, he was charmingly awkward. "I don't know what I'm saying," he pracitcally giggled by way of introduction, "I just want to say hello. I will shut up now." But by the end of the night, he was singing the Thundercats themesong and asking band members which song came next.
The rest of the band was fairly awesome though, despite some jarring feedback (largely coming from Casablancas' mic). Nick Valensi is turning into a world-class guitarist, and the whole band had a harder, more energized edge to them. This complements their new material, rumored to be heavily influenced by '70s rock. "Meet Me in the Bathroom" turned trippy, psychedelic, "Juicebox" came close punk rock and "Vision of Division" was almost metal.