(Strokes photos by Leslie Polanco)
Last Friday, fresh off the release of First Impressions Of Earth, the Strokes's small clubs mini-tour brought them to the Troubadour - the first LA venue they ever headlined, back in August of 2001 before their first album was even in stores. All the tickets for the show were either given out through radio promotions, obtained through some scheme involving faxing their record label, or reserved for the Strokes's own list, and the sidewalk outside was choked with the casualties of these three categories plus some of the creepiest dudes Los Angeles has to offer.
After a premature introduction from King Weirdo, Rodney Bingenheimer, the Strokes descended the dressing room stairs to—we shit you not—"The Luckiest Guy On The Lower East Side" by the Magnetic Fields. Starting off with lead-single "Juicebox" they then went into a stretch of new material with varying degrees of known-ness. The last time we saw the Strokes live was in ’03 at the ampitheatre in Universal Studios when they performed an unpleasantly drunken show. They seemed to be having a blast, but they also seemed to be sailing in an entirely different boat than the rest of us. But for this performance they came focused. Fabrizio Moretti baited the state's new ban on onstage smoking, Albert Hammond Jr's afro continued to grow with abandon, bassist Nikolai Fraiture continued to be the bassiest bass player of modern times (with a tucked-in T-shirt), Nick Valensi tried to smile his way into the psych-folk movement, and singer Julian Casablancas continued to prove that the only thing more impenetrable than his lyrics is his stage banter (we think we heard "you", "USA", "God" and "fuck"). They also sounded really really good.
The rest of their hour plus set was peppered with selections from Is This It (and not so many from Room On Fire) that predictably caused the most crowd pogoing. "Last Night" even prompted a skeezy chubster to scale the lighting rig for some hair tossing and thong baring—ewwww. As the club got hotter and bodies got pressed closer together we stopped trying to remember which were the songs from First Impressions Of Earth that we liked and just...got...into it.
Bold names and lames we spotted: Keanu Reeves, Jason Schwartzman, (maybe?) Kirstin Dunst, the Like, Har Mar Superstar, the white guitar player from Incubus with an afro, "producer" 3H getting and giving static at the door, Mike D on the street before the show—but instead of heading in he appeared to be heading out of neighboring Dan Tana's.