Folks love the Strokes
So the Strokes are a hyped band. One year ago today their debut album, Is This It, was released in the United States. Apparently the band has the substance to back up the hype, selling over 640,000 copies of Is This It to date. In the process they have become no less than the epitome of the "back to basics" movement in rock; a viable symbol of the purity of rock and roll.
On the night of the concert-with the smell of smoked substances and the sweat of strangers still in my nostrils-I reflected on the spectacle I had just witnessed. The Strokes' performance was so tight that hearing them play songs from Is This It was essentially no different than putting on the record. Besides playing ten songs from that album, the Strokes played three unreleased songs (including "Meet Me In the Bathroom" and "The Way It Is") along with "New York City Cops," a fan favorite that was on the original release of Is This It. All of the songs followed the Strokes formula: equal parts classic rock and new wave, with driving drums and alternating droning guitar and eccentric leads backing up Julian Casablancas' voice (which is itself a strange combination of Jim Morrison, John McCrea, and a walkie-talkie).
But it works. The songs aren't incredibly catchy (many of them even sound
like one another), yet they all manage to stick in your head. They all
sound like songs you've heard before in some vague memory, yet at the
same time they sound completely different from anything you've ever heard.
After a 45-minute performance the show was over. The Strokes had played just about every song in their repertoire. There was no encore. As the lights faded and the feedback continued after "Take It Or Leave It," Fab threw his cup of water into the crowd and dove into the front row - and after being returned to the stage he kicked over his cymbals. It was the kind of pure rock and roll debauchery I had been waiting for all night.
So do the Strokes have the substance worthy of the hype? I honestly don't care anymore. Music isn't about hype or symbols - it's about the feeling you get from hearing the songs and experiencing a live concert. And from that perspective the Strokes left me completely satisfied.