The Strokes

The Strokes

The Paegant, St. Louis, MO • April 27, 2004

Musically, The Strokes are not all that hard to pin down. They deliver simple, flat-out rock and roll that swaggers with confidence and catchiness. When they took to the stage on a late spring evening at the Pageant, they were greeted with thunderous applause and quickly went to work.

It was a set that flew by, delivering the highest caliber of rock awesomeness without relying on flash or gimmicks. This is due in large part to the fact that The Strokes’ songs transfer well to a loving, live audience. As a band their strength has always lain in their ability to create perfect two-minute pop songs that are verbally catchy as all giddup and musically intense. Don’t be fooled by the hype, the clothes or the tales of well-off upbringings, this is a band that gets dirty and delivers a fast and furious concert experience.

Rock music seems so easy for the Strokes. In fact there is very little about their on stage demeanor that isn’t cavalier. There is no doubt that they are rock stars. Imagine the Cars gone bad, wearing nice suits, wooing models, boozing all the while delivering flippantly distorted guitars and clanging percussion

Live the band has a completely different sonic texture than their albums. The Strokes songs serve up a tasty blend of power pop seasoned with jagged punk edges and basted in guitars and percussion. It is recipe that leaves crowds awestruck. This set was no different.

Although the set was short and succinct, it was full of intense, raw energy. “Reptilia” was an early, unexpected treat that switched things into high gear. Guitarists Albert Hammond Jr. and Nick Valensi traded guitar licks, adeptly framing Julian Casablancas’ raspy vocals. Other early highlights included the sprawling “The End Has No End” and “12:51” both delivered with Ocasek-like vocal tendencies. “12:51,” one of the more catchy moments on Room on Fire, sounded fresher and edgier live. An already-kinetic crowd erupted with the thunderous “New York City Cops,” a song that snarled and lashed about thanks to Fab Moretti’s burly percussion. Midway through the proceedings, The Strokes manipulated “Under Control” into a screamer and transformed “Last Nite” into a harder mixture of left and right hooks.

Vocalist Julian Casablancas, in all of his slurred, hip and pretty glory, basked in the love felt by the Pageant crowd. It is easy to dismiss him as just another rich kid in a rock band, however, when he sings in that sepulchral, agitated voice it becomes easier to forget his social shortfalls. Casablancas’ genuine stage presence came to the surface as he jocularly introduced songs, made jokes, and smiled at his bandmates.

From beginning to end the frenzied capacity crowd, part frat house, part walking Gap ad, bopped, danced and sang along. “What Ever Happened?” was guttural and glorious. “Automatic Stop” was punchy and fast thanks to Nikolai Fraiture’s whipsmart basswork. “You Talk Way Too Much” was an unexpected treat. As Casablancas pointed out in his introduction, it was one they had yet to do on the tour. Other highlights included “Someday” and “Trying Your Luck” which featured a tandem of nerve-bending guitar mayhem from Valensi and Hammonds.

For a band that is oftentimes accused of being aloof and distant, The Strokes appeared awfully gracious as their adoring fans showered them with applause, screams and underwear. All of this reciprocated by Casablancas, who smiled as he dodged, weaved, zigged and zagged to and fro, thanking the audience throughout the set. He clearly was happy to be here. As for the rest of the band, they were raw. They also gave off an air of nonchalance, standing aloof and coy. Fraiture, Valensi and Hammonds took breaks from being cool long enough to dispatch some mesmerizingly potent power pop.

On stage The Stokes take care of business. They come out, play compact pounding balls-to-the-wall songs fueled by noise and determination. This show was no different. They rocked out from start to finish, offering a deep set that gave their fans everything they had. They rounded out their eighty-plus minute set with two, sharp, jumpy numbers, “The Modern Age” and “Take It Or Leave It” before walking off the stage, leaving rabid crowd wanting more.

The backbone of The Stokes success has always been their blistering live performances. On this tour they have drawn things out by playing longer sets and expanding their songs. The musical matriculation of The Strokes was obvious to those in attendance. The band that showed up at the Pageant on this night was miles above the band that last played here just over two years ago. Furthermore, The Strokes haven’t let the hipsters at radio or fatcats with glossy magazines that constantly extol their greatness get to them. In concert they do not go through any motions. No siree bub, they cast all of that aside and get to the meat of the matter, they are a rock and roll band. This point was driven home resoundingly with their crisp St Louis show, the 24th date of the tour. Somehow, The Strokes remained the coolest band in rock by going bowling after the gig. How hip is that?

The Strokes:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Recently on Ink 19...

  • The Reading Room
    The Reading Room

    Today’s episode features author Anna-Marie O’Brien talking about her book Adventures of a Metalhead Librarian: A Rock N’ Roll Memoir with Ink 19’s Rose Petralia.

  • Bush Tetras
    Bush Tetras

    Rhythm and Paranoia (Wharf Cat). Review by Scott Adams.

  • Tom Tom Club
    Tom Tom Club

    The Good The Bad and the Funky (Nacional). Review by Julius C. Lacking.

  • Barnes & Barnes
    Barnes & Barnes

    Pancake Dream (Demented Punk Records). Review by Carl F. Gauze.

  • Jeremiah Lockwood
    Jeremiah Lockwood

    A Great Miracle: Jeremiah Lockwood’s Guitar Soli Chanukah Album (Reboot). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

  • Metallica: The $24.95 Book
    Metallica: The $24.95 Book

    From an underground band that pioneered the thrash metal sound, to arguably the biggest rock act in the new millennium, Metallica has had a long and tumultuous history. Ben Apatoff scours a myriad of sources to catalog this history in his new book.

  • Araceli Lemos
    Araceli Lemos

    Shortly after AFI Fest 2021 wrapped, Generoso spoke at length with director, Araceli Lemos about her award-winning and potent feature debut, Holy Emy. Lemos’s film uses elements of body horror in her story about the exoticization of two Filipina sisters living in Greece and how that exploitation creates a distance between them.

  • Southern Accents 55
    Southern Accents 55

    A woofin’ good time with cuts from Hank Williams, Muddy Waters, Delta Moon and more from KMRD 96.9, Madrid, New Mexico!

  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
    Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

    Absurdism with a healthy dose of air conditioning.

  • Mixtape 172 :: My Old Bassist
    Mixtape 172 :: My Old Bassist

    Like pre-teens throwing every liquid into the kitchen blender and daring each other to drink the results, Woody and Jeremy fuse all manner of sounds legitimate and profane into some murky concoction that tastes surprisingly good.

From the Archives