Singer/guitarists Pete Doherty and Carl Barat are men of few words. On stage at New York's Bowery Ballroom, the two frontmen chose to let their highly anticipated set, with seventeen blistering songs and one audience stampede, do the talking. Few bands of the past year have garnered as much critical praise as The Libertines, who were forced this week to answer the hype of their Rough Trade Double A-side "What A Waster/ I Get Along," and the brilliant, infectious debut album, Up The Bracket. Three sold out NYC shows later; it seems their British invasion was a success.
Opening up with "Horrorshow," the manic energy would continue throughout the evening, stopping briefly for a vital breath of air or simply to drink more beer. On record, there is a sense of tremendous urgency, seemingly inspired by alcohol and cigarettes in the tradition of rock's immortals. Live, most songs were sped up from the original, some for better, others for worse. Regardless of a few sloppy moments, few could doubt the sincerity of the young men, relentlessly pushing through each song as if their lives were at stake.
Both Doherty and Barat bounced around the stage, while bassist John Hassal coolly played from behind alongside the emphatic and skilled drumming of Gary Powell. Most often compared with The Jam or early Clash (Mick Jones produced their first full-length), The Libertines certainly did their predecessors proud with a non-stop assault that pleased those fans cheering and clapping from the opening riffs and cymbal crashes, as well as the soon to be converted.
Having also been compared with a contemporary NYC rock band that rhymes with blokes, The Libertines proved that they could hold their own with the boys from this side of the pond. Almost every song currently on record, along with a few others were played to the delight of many who sang and bounced along.
Before their last song, Doherty began to motion to the crowd to join them on stage. Those in the front were initially intimidated, until the singer reached down and started pulling them up. After a few people got on stage, and the guitars and drums made their appeal like a bugle rousing troops into battle, dozens of enthusiastic people rushed the stage. Dancing feverishly on stage, it soon became impossible to see any of the members of the band.
As Bowery security started pulling people back to the side, Doherty and Barat emerged triumphantly and began playing "I Get Along," a rousing '77- punk inspired assault where Barat sang with his British sneer, "I get along / just singing my song / people tell me I'm wrong / fuck 'em." And with that, The Libertines, covered in sweat, dropped their instruments, slapped a few outstretched hands, and left the stage. No encore was necessary.
As the smoke cleared, few were left standing. Last night, against their better judgment, The FADER Magazine, Rough Trade Records America and Jose Cuervo 1800 Tequila hosted an aftershow for Britain's own Libertines, held at the charmingly dodgy Lolita Bar in the Bowery. The boys in the band arrived fresh from their show at the Bowery Ballroom, margaritas in hand, wearing tattered military jackets and looks of bewilderment. Seeking to rid themselves of a bit of culture shock, they began to gravitate toward fellow Brit Damon Albarn and Rough Trade America labelmates Adam Green (of the Moldy Peaches) and The Kills.
Cinco de Mayo offered justification for the endless tequila shots being poured throughout the night. Most of the party-goers celebrating alongside The Libertines had worked up a thirst after making the short trek through the Lower East Side from the Bowery. Music varied from rock favorites to current hip hop tracks, and those in attendance responded favorably.
Digital cameras flashed and people danced until the lights finally came on in the early morning hours. A few phone numbers were casually exchanged, as others in attendance simply stumbled out into the cool spring air. Closing out Lolita's at 4:15, crews called for cabs, as some left to pursue the finer, sleep deprived pleasures that New York City has to offer.
Source: Michael Calderone, Guest Reviewer/Elliot Aronow