I had mixed feelings going into the Julian Casablancas show on Thursday night. His solo album, Phrazes for the Young, which is pretty incredible, would probably come off well, but would it be the same Casablancas I fell in love with when Is This It came out? Would it be awkward not seeing the rest of The Strokes with him? Could these songs possibly come off like sort of a lounge act on stage? I was probably more nervous than him, who was performing in New York City for the first time in years.
Getting to Terminal 5 super early, the line was already down the street for the sold out show. The crowd is still the hippiest group you’ll ever see. Folks, Strokes fans invented hipsters. The line rushed in as soon as the doors opened. A majority of people hit the merch table immediatly, something you rarely see these days. Sneaking up to the front of the crowd, I knew something special was about to happen tonight.
First taking the stage was Tanlines, a eletronic duo that managed to keep my attention. Telepathe took the stage next, which honestly I could do without. Every song sounded the same, and I possibly dozed off during one part. If the opener was just Tanlines than I would have been happy. Maybe it was because I was dying to see Casablancas, someone I haven’t seen on stage since the last time The Strokes played in New York 3 or 4 years ago.
Hitting the stage immediatly after, Casablancas came out like he was never gone. Launching into “Ludlow Street,” an homage to being back in NYC, the fans embraced him right off the bat. Singing along to every word from the start. It felt good to have him back, and he loved the attention. An audience favorite of the night was certainly “11th Dimension,” as the crowd sang along and danced. Casablancas seemed ecstatic to be playing in his hometown again and his energy was just incredible. Though he still manages to hold on to his microphone stand for dear life, he was not exempt from getting right in the crowd’s face, literally, as he hopped off the stage several times that night. “What a good lookin’ crowd. You’re still the best,” commented Casablancas to the screaming fans.
The 6 piece band behind him were extremely tight, but somehow you just couldn’t take your eyes off of the man himself. The night was filled with tracks off his solo record, and ones like “Out of the Blue,” riled up the crowd like no other. Though you would assume that with only one album under his belt, that he would have lack of material to play on stage. This was not the case. Blazing through nearly every track, he also whipped out a few surprises when he wasn’t talking about how upset he was with Alicia Key’s songs. He shocked us by playing a slow cover of the old Kings of Leon tune, “Velvet Snow,” which was beautiful to say the least. Leaving the stage after “Left & Right In the Dark,” he ran off, literally. The band wasn’t gone for more than 10 seconds before the crowd started to chant for them to come back.
Casablancas came back on stage with the guitarist and said “This is a cover of an old Strokes b-side.” Of course, fans went crazy for this as he performed “I’ll Try Anything Once.” Everyone was singing along, and Julian had the biggest smile on his face. Performing “4 Chords of the Apocalypse” with such spunk, Casablancas got right into the crowd and the security guards had to keep a hold onto him. And with that, he was gone again. But the fans were still hungry. An impromptu second encore then took place as he closed with “Tourist,” Casablancas left the stage by slapping 5 with people in the crowd only to come back instructing his drummer to play a beat for him to sing over “Let’s hear it for New York, these streets will make you feel brand new, big lights will inspire you,” and he was out like a flash of light. Julian we missed you, and from the looks of it, you missed us too.
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