So, last night I saw Julian Casablancas, of The Strokes fame, at The Vogue. While I tend to enjoy the more intimate side of live music, sometimes it’s relaxing to just be another face in the crowd and enjoy some good music.
The Vogue was packed with with a wide variety of people, but a majority of them would fall into the “Yuppie-Hipster Hybrid” column. There were tons of skinny jeans and ironic $150 sweaters that were meant to look like $3.00 thrift-store sweaters, as well as a few predominant popped-collars. But enough about the goons in the crowd, I was there for the music.
Casablancas’s solo EP, Phrases For The Young, is eight songs of pulsing, electronic, power-pop. He played every song off of the EP as well as some b-sides, but the highlight of the set came when he busted out the classic Strokes song “Hard To Explain”.
When he played that, my mind was transported back to 2001. 2001 was a turbulent year for music. I was stuck in high school, surrounded by morons who either listened to N*Sync, Eminem, Dave Matthews Band or Papa Roach. Napster was still pretty fresh and Sam Goody was charging $17.99 for a CD.
Then like a missile in the dark, The Strokes first album, Is This It?, exploded onto the national music scene. The Strokes looked and sounded like nothing else in mainstream music at the time; it was retro, it was mod, it was punk and it was cool. Immediately, boy bands became a laughable anecdote, boys grew their hair long again and nümetal was quarantined to butt-rock radio stations like X 103. Music had changed forever, for better or for worse. It was like the second coming of Nirvana.
- Don't you wish your boyfriend was Mod like us?
Coupled with the emergence of digital music, The Strokes forced the record industry to evolve. Just like the post-Nirvana major-label signing spree of 1992, which dragged tons of great underground bands into the mainstream, the post-Strokes headhunt was massive. A domino effect followed and Queens of the Stone Age, The White Stripes, The Distillers, Thursday and Modest Mouse (all bands with underground followings) were thrust into the limelight with major-label deals. Success ruined most of those bands, but the industry was changed forever.
So, love’em or hate’em, we can all thank The Strokes for rocking the boat a little. There was a lot of hype behind them, and, in my opinion, they lived up to it, not only with their music, but with their impact on the world music scene.