YouTube Live: A Summation of The Strokes in Three Videos

on April 20, 2010, 12:15pm

This installment of YouTube Live is going to be a unique one. I think we all need a healthy reminder of just why we love The Strokes with such ferocity. Bring a change of clothes and a toothbrush, ‘cause we’re going on a journey. Through time. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need Christopher Lloyd or a DeLorean to travel backwards. All you need to do is follow me.

Our first stop is in back in the year 2002. The Strokes’ debut album Is This It had been released six months prior to this video. The album was making huge waves in the music scene, and was inspiring young, impressionable teens (of which I was certainly one) to grow out their hair, quit showering so much, and start buying all their clothes at the Goodwill. Julian Casablancas was at this point in his life a stay-drunk, the pyrotechnics were about as far away as you could get from a 2010 Muse show, and the sound was as raw as ever. And that is why we loved The Strokes then, and why we continue to love them now. They were a bit of a Cinderella story (minus one Hillary Duff and one Chad Michael Murray), and they came from a place that we could all relate to. So, without further ado, taken from a live showcase in LA on February 2, 2002, here are The Strokes performing the title track “Is This It”:

Hope that one brought back the painful, yet beautiful memories of adolescence. I think my acne came back from the sheer memory of what that song meant to me as a teenager. Next stop, 2004. The Strokes highly anticipated follow-up to Is This It was released in October of 2003. The success of their previous effort and ensuing tour led to the quick release of another album that sounded cleaner than its raw predecessor, but had all the same charm. You’ll notice the boys themselves haven’t changed too much, still sporting the mangy look and swagger that seems to come so natural to them, but some growing up has occurred. Casablancas began to fight the battle to sobriety at around this point and was having mixed results. He married assistant band manager Juliet Joslin just months after this video and was well on the track to becoming a responsible adult. Drummer Fabrizio Moretti began a high profile relationship with actress Drew Barrymore at this time which widened the audience of Strokes listeners. The youthful nonchalance was still prevalent, but visibly receding. This album was received as well as its predecessor, largely due to its very similar sound. It’s first single was the song “12:51” which we are about to witness. From the month of February in 2004, once again The Strokes playing “12:51”:

Our last stop, a jump forward to the year 2006. The Strokes made a major change in style. They released First Impressions of Earth in January of that year. It was the least well-received of their three albums by fans and critics alike. Their sound is bigger, stronger, and possibly a little too clean for its audience. The Strokes were founded on being fantastically unrefined, and that’s what the fans and critics wanted and expected, but not so much what they received. The vocals were cleaner, the guitar solos were more intricate, the drum work was heavier, and the bass was too energetic. I myself am a fan of the album, but trying very hard to speak from a non-biased standpoint, this was not their strongest, nor their most authentic effort. You’ll notice upon seeing them live that the pyrotechnics have accompanied this newer, bigger sound and that they’ve all cleaned up a bit; especially Albert Hammond, Jr. and the white suit that became his trademark. The boys were all really starting to grow up. Nick Valensi would marry his girlfriend of five years and have twins with her later on that year, Moretti would break it off with Drew Barrymore, and The Strokes would go on a very lengthy hiatus after this tour. You’ll also notice in this video that the sound is more calculated, the band is less energetic, and that childhood charm is very near gone. Still, they remain great. Finally, The Strokes performing “You Only Live Once” live at Eurock√©ennes Festival in France on one Friday in June:

Hope that trip down memory lane was filled with fond memories. Each member, with the exception of guitarist Nick Valensi, have released at least one solo album to varying degrees of success. They haven’t put anything out as a band since 2006, leaving us superfans in the dark for over four years. The news from The Strokes front is pretty constant and pretty downer these days, but I still have hope. They have been scheduled to appear at the following festivals (we’ll give you the scoop since we’re festival headquarters, USA): Isle of Wight, RockNess, Hurricane, Southside, OpenAir St. Gallen, and American festival Lollapalooza. The band has been working separately on the album, Julian on his own, the remaining four on their own. While the album was originally slated for a September 2010 release, it appears as though it has been pushed back to January of 2011, leaving the world thirsty for yet another year. In closing, don’t let this dark last paragraph full of sad news kill the high you got by watching these videos. It was meant to act as a reminder to what incredible icons The Strokes are, and to instill hope in the unbelievers. The Strokes will remain in our hearts forever, no matter what road they choose to travel.

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