For Fans Of: The Arctic Monkeys, Kasbian, The Strokes (as if that weren’t a given)
Download This Now: “Out of the Blue,” “Ludlow St.”
Between reading less-than-stellar reviews of his solo album, Phrazes for the Young, and recollections of drunken Strokes performances plastered across YouTube, it was all I could do not to storm out of the Troc screaming, “I can’t watch!”
Ok, bit of an exaggeration, but I had my doubts.
After a 90-minute wait for the opening band (despite a set stage), lights dimmed for the first set, and we were hit with (literal) jungle noises blaring from the stage, courtesy of opening act Tanlines.
Despite the onslaught, the Brooklyn-based experimental-pop duo moved the crowd. The combination of colorful stage lighting, music so loud the seats vibrated and a keyboardist who couldn’t stand still to save his life culminated in a sea of dancing bodies amid the floor crowd, and legit head nodding in the balcony.
45 minutes after Tanlines closed, the lights again dimmed and a six-piece band poured onto the stage: two drummers, two keyboardists and two guitarists. However, there could have been 10 musicians on stage; half of the band played multiple instruments over the course of the night, rotating keys to percussion to bass, plus vocal contribution. One drummer even broke out a cowbell.
Their leader, Casablancas strolled on stage, decked vest to boots in black leather, looking irreverently cool (despite all the cow) with shaggy hair and a, “yeah, I just woke up, but it’s OK ‘cause it’s me” gait.
The set opened with a country-esque tune, which Casablancas’ voice carried with a deep, faux-drunken drawl. Subsequent songs were like musical Matryoshka, with genres folding into each other on every track. In any given song you found 80s pop rock wrapped in soul, cuddled with rave-synth and tucked in tight by a taste of Johnny Cash. I swear there was even a dash of early 90s R&B in there.
On par with the music was a near-acrobatic display of energy from Casablancas. In the middle of the show, Casablancas leaned singing against a speaker, which, upon gauging stability, he hoisted himself on top of. After standing on it for a second, he proceeded to climb into the balcony and walk as far as his cord length allowed into a cluster of fans (of whom I will not admit my jealousy).
When his cord ran out—after the crew rushed to untangle what was left of it onstage—Casablancas turned and stepped over the balcony railing onto a thin ledge to sing. A few seconds in, he (remembering gravity once again) stepped back into the balcony before climbing back onto the speaker, and down to the stage to finish the song.
My jaw = practically dislodged.
Knowing his performance wouldn’t be complete sans a Strokes cover, Casablancas and a keyboardist eased into a rendition of “I’ll Try Anything Once,” a B-side which some in the crowd thought was a slow version of “You Only Live Once.” Different songs, I assure you.
Blind adoration aside, the show was an energetic display of talent by Casablancas and the accompanying band. I left the Troc, scanning walls for posters to snag and quietly laughing at myself for having doubted.
Casablancas is the lead singer of The Strokes, the band that practically revived playing great music with effortless cool. How could his performance be less? To quote Phrazes, when it comes to supporting performers you love, “your faith has got to be greater than your fear.”
You can contact Kara Ashe at email@example.com