The Strokes @ Madison Square Garden, NYC – April 1, 2011

Photo by the lovely Chelsea Franklin


Like fish to a bait, thousands of Strokes fans piled into New York City’s Madison Square Garden on Friday night. This has been nearly five years too long since the guys took the stage together in the Big Apple.

Openers The Grogs and Devendra Banhart (Who went on way too early), barely gained any attention. Elvis Costello, also known as our “April Fools,” joke, came out and played about three songs as a surprise opener as well. No one really seemed to care unless he was about to take off a mask and reveal he was Julian Casablancas.

We were there to see The Strokes.

A band that brought Rock and Roll alive for many of us in the crowd, you could look around and see the ripped jeans, converse sneakers and unkempt, but perfectly placed hair. It was easy to believe that everything was back in place. Just how we left it five years ago. It was interesting that the band was playing a stadium in NYC, the biggest headlining show that they have ever done in the city. Being about my 6th Strokes show in NYC, I wasn’t sure how they would carry out a big, sold out venue. The answer is nothing more than “brilliant.”

Cue the 9:30 curtain call and on walks the five familar faces. The crowd gave them one of the biggest welcomes I’ve ever seen and The Strokes seemed to be more than thankful. They wasted no time before launching into “Is This It,” a clever first song. Right away we knew every word, so much that Julian commented on it.

The chemistry of the band seemed to be back. They were tight, and not sloppy by any means, even when Casablancas messed up on a couple of lines. Hey, it happens. If you didn’t tell me they were on a hiatus, I would have thought they were playing together every night for the past year together. It was that great. Bands rarely play so perfectly, then again, no band is The Strokes.

From “Reptilia,” to “Under Cover of Darkness, the band delivered. Mixing classics like “Last Nite,” seemed to be flawless amongst the new tracks on Angles, (BMG) which were even better live than anticipated. Casablancas was chatty that night making comments and talking to the band. They seem to be healing with each other and that makes an arena of 25,000 happy Strokes fans. Highlights of the nights included “New York City Cops,” “Life is Simple in the Moonlight,” and “What Ever Happened?,” but honestly, EVERY song was a highlight

Elvis Costello appeared onstage in the midst of “Taken for a Fool,” which seemed to be magical for some or killed it for others. It takes a lot to impress Strokes fans. A lot.

Nick Valensi’s and Albert Hammond Jr.’s guitars intertwined with every single strum and pluck as they held the songs together. Nikolai Fraiture’s bass was smooth and emphasized every note perfectly. Fab Moretti provided brillian percussion bringing up the backbone of the band, even with the occasional use of the drum machine. Casablancas’ voice was dead on with every note and the crowd was right there with him. Jumping into the audience pit a few times, he weaved his way through the crowd and never stopped for a minute. This is always something amazing about the band. They don’t make the fans feel like outsiders, but part of what’s going on.

Climbing on speakers and upper levels, Casablancas was determined to get your attention at any cost. What was that line that Jason Lee said in “Almost Famous”? …”You know what I do? I connect. I get people off. I look for the guy who isn’t getting off and I MAKE him get off.” This my friends is Julian Casablancas. A man who will bend over backwards to make sure you are having a good time and look cool as hell doing it.

A whopping hour and a half later and a short encore, the band closed with “Take It or Leave It.” Just how we remembered it. Ful of energy, an explosion of sound, a jump in the crowd and smooth but raw vocals. As the band left the stage for the night, you could see 25,000 smiling faces.

The Strokes are back.

SETLIST
1.Is This It
2.Reptilia
3.Under Cover of Darkness
4.Hard To Explain
5.Last Nite
6.Life Is Simple in the Moonlight
7.Juicebox
8.Someday
9.You’re So Right
10.Under Control
11.You Only Live Once
12.New York City Cops
13.Games
14.What Ever Happened?
15.Taken for a Fool (with Elvis Costello)
Encore:
16.Ask Me Anything
17.The Modern Age
18.Gratisfaction
19.I Can’t Win
20.Take It Or Leave It

VIDEOS

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Infantree’s Freaky New Video

Infantree definitely seems older than their ages would suggest (besides the mis-spelling of their name). Although three-forths of the band is under 21, they are already making a name for themselves musically.

The band has been booked to play in the SXSW ASCAP showcase, taking place March 18th at the Victorian Room in the Driskill Hotel. The band was also invited by Neil Young to perform at his Bridge School Benefit alongside Elvis Costello, Emmylou Harris and Modest Mouse.

The group will be re-releasing their first album, Would Work later this spring. Until then, enjoy this creepy video for the song “Feet of Clay”.

Feet of Clay from Infantree on Vimeo.

A Modern Mystery Holiday Party with The Miniature Tigers

Yes, its another edition of the Modern Mystery Holiday party with today’s guests, The Miniature Tigers! This band became one of our favorites this year. Not only are they the nicest and funniest guys you’ll ever meet, but their music is astonishing.  We haven’t heard indie pop as good as this in quite some time. The Miniature Tigers released their debut full length this year titled ‘Tell it to the Volcano’ which hasn’t left our record players yet. Charlie Brand and Daggrr shared their Top Albums with us amongst other things. There may be more Top Albums coming from other Mini Ts members, so stay tuned!

Charlie Brand’s Top 10 Albums of the Year

Department of Eagles – In Ear Park
Of Montreal – Skeletal Lamping
Beach House – Devotion
Alvin Band – Mantis Praying
Harry Nilsson – Nilsson Sings Newman
Grizzly Bear – Yellow House
Elvis Costello – Armed Forces
The Kinks – Entire Catalogue
Portisthead – Third
Van Dyke Parks – Song Cycle

The Best Thing that Happened to Me This Year

The best thing that happened to me this year was recording our album. That was a great deal of fun. That, and being able to come to new york was fantastic. San Francisco was amazing. Great year.

The strangest thing was probably that waitress.  (Check out our Miniature Tigers CMJ Interview)

My Favorite Holiday Memory

One year my brother and I got a go kart for christmas. We took one lap around the block and by the time we got back to the top of the street, our neighbor was there telling our parents how dangerous they were. They returned it to the store later that day. I’m not sure why that’s my favorite memory. Maybe it’s not?
Daggrr’s Top 10 Albums of the Year

1. Cut Copy – In Ghost Colours

2. Beach House – Devotion

3. The Ruby Suns – Sea Lion

4. Atlas Sound – Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel

5. The Kooks – Konk

6. The Streets – Everything Is Borrowed

7. Late of the Pier – Fantasy Black Channel

8. David Byrne – Everything That Happens Will Happen Today

9. Princess Ladyfriend – History Time Travel Gig

10. Santogold – Santogold

The Best Thing that Happened to Me  This Year

So many great things happened this year. I am very fortunate to have the life that I do. The most pivotal would have to be discovering Dzogchen, which is a form of Zen Buddhism. It has helped me so much with my day to day life and my constant pursuit to live without fear and see the world in the present moment.

The Strangest Thing that Happened to Me This Year

Being hired to play for Miniature Tigers. Those guys are weird.

My Favorite Holiday Memory

Miniature Tigers had a foosball match at The Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco right before a gig. Rick and I totally spanked Charlie and Lou in what can only be described as 8 rows of foos men, which are plastic, metal, wooden, or sometimes carbon-fibre figures mounted on horizontal metal bars. Each team of 1, 2, or 3 human players controls 4 rows of foos men. There is talk of a rematch but no dates have been confirmed.