The Strokes with Moldy Peaches - 10/05/01 @ the Metro
The "next biggest thing" and who Liam Gallagher of Oasis calls "the best rock band in the world" rolled the hype wagon into Chicago at midnight (get it, Strokes @ Midnight????) Saturday morning. The lines where wrapped around the block and it seemed the Metro was sold out double capacity.
New York's The Strokes where in town, and the frenzy surrounding the show according to a metro staffer "compared to the last Smashing Pumpkins show."
The Strokes are a throwback to the old fashioned rock and roll from the 70's. Leather jackets and confident stage swagger make these guys an incredible sight. Critics have called them the next Velvet Underground and the lead singer Julian Casablancas's nasal vocals compare to the great Lou Reed. I particularily enjoyed their cd and wondered why shows in UK where fetching $300-600 scalping prices. I paid my $10 and walked into a show I will forever remember.
The Moldy Peaches opened with a set actually longer than the headliners with very sloppy raw, but entertaining rock music...the Moldy Peaches schtick is funny lyrics and outrageuos costumes. The lead singer was dressed as Davy Crockett and the bass player dressed as Spiderman. The crowd laughed and gasped to a band not as talented but probably more entertaining then the overrated Tenacious D. The opener was forgotten quickly as the wait between sets was about 30 min. The crowd was getting antsy and there was an aura of electricity in the air. Finally (at my guess) around 1:45am, the soon to be world famous Strokes hit the stage.
Larger than life, looking kinda like the Ramones with two afro haired members. The Strokes opened up with the song "This is it" to a lot of smoke and a small spotlight, all we could see was the shadows of the band but this reviewer had goosebumps. During the song Casablancas took a dive into the crowd, but it didnt seem to be on purpose. He stumbled off the stage in a stupour, the crowd quickly realized that the singer in his early 20's was very much drunk. His vocals where perfect, but he did manage to fall a bunch of times and even nearly take out the drum kit. For being very drunk the man had passion in his eyes and he seemed to be pouring his very soul into his performance. During the set he told the crowd that we were the biggest show they've headlined in their young career. (Not the largest crowd however, as they had the main stage at carling weekend in the uk) The Strokes performed 12 songs and if you know your album (which is out as you read this go buy it mister!) They played all their songs off the album plus 1. the extra song was "New York City Cops" a derogatory song making fun of the NYPD. That song was removed from the album because of the recent tragedies in New York. Casablancas introuduced the song by saying "This song in no way is meant to be disrespectful." What a bold statement as the song contains the lyrics "new york city cops, they're just plain dumb" Argubally one of the Strokes finer songs, if you can get ahold of the song from the import or the internet I highly recommend it.
Guitarist Nick Valensi looked like Angus from AC/DC jumping around in his youth. Other guitarist Albert Hammond looked like a very young Slash and dazzle the crowd with some amazing fingerwork. Hammond also held up pretty well after some lunkhead from the crowd threw a full cup of beer at him, and shorted out his effects pedals. Bassist Nikolai Fraiture was not very energetic but provided a very powerful bass line to the show, he stood on stage deep in concentration and provided the backdrop to the amazing music coming from this quintet. Finally, drummer Fab Morretti was brilliant on drums, his high energy and amazing time added power to the beatiful sound of rock music done right. He gets extra points for keeping Casablancas from wrecking his kit, and keeping time at once.
The show lived up to the hype. So hyped that it drew in the curiosity of the comedy duo Tenacious D, the Black Crowe's Chris Robinson and Pete Yorn who were in attendance.
The Strokes may very well be the next best thing. I may not think that they will sell 3 million records like the pop music of today. They're style of rock music may not even make Q101, but through word of mouth, the news is going to get out. Liam Gallagher may have actually made sense for once when he professed his love to them.
All in all, the Strokes seemed like something legendary out of the 70's that these young eyes werent meant to see. If you have any taste in rock and roll and want to support a band that could be the savior of rock music, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of their album just released Oct 9th entitled, "Is This It."
--Steve Chyba, Chicago - Walkaabout@aol.com