Live Music Review: The Strokes


The Strokes

I actually saw The Strokes almost a month ago, which shows how slack I’ve been updating the Hollow lately. This is the second time I’ve seen the band live, and it was interesting to compare the two gigs, which were both at the Hordern Pavilion, one of my favourite (and one of the oldest) venues in Sydney. One of the great things about the Hordern is a ticket entitles you to get in and stand around—no reserved seats, no jumped-up security telling you to sit down, just take your beer in and stake a place.

Anyway, I wish I’d reviewed that first gig here, because it was the best I’ve seen in years. It was the first visit of The Strokes to our shores, just after the release of their second album Room of Fire, and it was clear they were blown away by the audience reaction. There was an exciting, positive vibe, and I walked out drenched in sweat and grinning my head off (and feeling pretty good that I could still dance into a frenzy at a gig at the age of almost forty).

Of course, things have changed. Three albums in and The Strokes have almost become mainstream, and the crowd was a very different kettle of kids. Unfortunately we were standing next to a group of arseholes overfuelled on testosterone, and when the band kicked off with ‘Juicebox’ from the new album First Impressions of Earth we immediately felt as if we’d been thrown into the middle of a Hitler Youth rally. Fists and devil horn gestures (oh, come on) thrust into the sky as, purposely bashing into those around them, the dickheads who’d just discovered the band last week proceeded to ruin the night. My girl shot me a slightly panicked look so we allowed ourselves to be squirted back about twenty rows where things were a bit quieter, losing our friend in the process. He later told us he’d been fuming because one of these guys made some crack about his age. Yeah right, I bet that arsehole will still be going to gigs at my friend’s age.

But how were the band? Sure, they were as tight as ever, but unfortunately some of the magic has leached away. That youthful, enthusiastic edge has gone, no doubt battered into submission by the drudgery of thousands of gigs all over the world. The new album tries to move into new territory, but to me it’s almost as if the band has become a little ashamed of the feel-good nature of its earlier material. This is a shame, as not many bands these days are able to craft such perfect pop-rock, and it’s a skill they should be proud of. The material from the first two albums was still the best live, contrasting with parts of the new tracks that felt like they were just taking up space in between the choruses.

I may think twice about seeing the band next time they’re out here, but that first gig, at least, will always be remembered as one of the best I’ve been to. It’s a shame The Strokes can’t play with the enthusiasm of youth forever. Then again, they still have the potential to mature into something even better.

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. spelling obsessive
    Sep 04, 2006 @ 19:41:14

    leached away

  2. UniversalHead
    Sep 04, 2006 @ 23:12:44

    Thankyou Annie.

  3. Annie
    Sep 12, 2006 @ 12:20:19

    How embarrassing, I’ve been outed as a pedant.

  4. UniversalHead
    Sep 12, 2006 @ 12:46:23

    Busted baby!!

  5. Mrs W
    Sep 13, 2006 @ 17:13:57

    I think I have quite an acceptable excuse – I am an English teacher.
    Well actually these days I am a stay-at-home mum with a bit too much time on my hands. So that’s why I am proof-reading your website.

  6. UniversalHead
    Sep 14, 2006 @ 15:55:03

    You know you’re very hard to keep track of the way you keep changing your moniker. (Keep proofing by the way).