julian.jpgI had no idea that Strokes fans were into crowd surfing! And MOSHING. And hardcore hallucinogens! What a fun time. Seriously. Compared to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs shows last weekend, it was quite the shot in the arm to see these guys play a room that was this amped to see them. I'll take the rowdy annoying crowd over the chatty annoying crowd any day of the week. I'm cool with having some tripped out psycho rubbing his face on the back of my track jacket while he’s shouting along to every single word. It's better than having to put up with running commentary from some bored smarty-pants against the wall.

So this was the first time the Strokes had played New York City in quite a while. Since the Summer of 2004, if I remember correctly. After months and months of rumors about 'secret' smaller club shows around the city that never worked out, the band finally had a chance to showcase their new songs to the hometown crowd. It was a treat. Vision of Division, Ize of the World and Heart in a Cage are among some of the best songs these guys have written, and they absolutely killed live. When Julian's kicked it into 5th gear during the refrain of Ize, the floor just combusted into a frenzy of pumping fists and colliding bodies. Surreal.

There is such a heavy focus on the individual sounds for this new album...Nick's guitar, Julians voice, etc. It's no longer just "the sound" that had defined the band's previous two efforts. Now there are distinguishable components that fill each track. Hearing this live was a change of pace. Previously, they seemed to be on alcohol-induced autopilot as they plowed through song after song. Now, with a recently sober Julian at the helm, their set felt a bit more thought out and deliberate. They played plenty of old stuff, but they seemed a bit more cautious and calculating while performing them. They seemed to...dare I say...care. It was good to see this side of them. They ran with their old shtick for long enough, but they've matured and settled down a bit. In doing so they managed to improve on their live formula. Hearing these songs with a little bit of emotion behind them was far more satisfying than anything they were able to pull off when Jules was slurring through his set.

The band will be in town for two more nights this Friday and Saturday. Tickets are sold out, but they’re not going for much on Craigslist if you’re looking to go. Check out some pics from the show here