The Strokes played LA’s Wiltern Theatre (pics, review, setlist)
photos by Samantha Saturday
Last night (July 25), The Strokes continued the momentum built on the heels of their recent EP Future Past Present, playing a special Los Angeles benefit show at the historic Wiltern Theatre. Pictures from that show are in the gallery above.
The Strokes were the only band on the bill (a DJ warmed up the crowd for a bit), and by the time they took the stage, about a half an hour after their announced 9 PM set time, the crowd was just about losing their minds. I hadn't seen a band this obviously popular in a long time, and I have to admit to being caught a bit off guard by the reception: it can be easy to forget when you live in an internet bubble, but people love The Strokes. As they strode onstage it might as well have been 2002. The jeans were tight, the hair was mussed, and the jacket on Julian Casablancas's shoulders was leather. The kind of cool that the Strokes epitomized in the early 2000s has mutated but hasn't, it would seem, gotten any less cool. These guys are rock stars at a time when we don't have too many of those, and especially not ones who still look so young. I was struck by all of this acutely throughout their set. I was also struck by fear that the shaking balcony that I sat on would fall to the ground.
This was a professional rock 'n' roll set, and the crowd ate it up. While some newer stuff like "Threat of Joy" and "Welcome to Japan" made early appearances, The Strokes essentially only played the hits, sticking to the first two (and occasionally third) albums. People just lost their damn minds at the opening passages of "Automatic Stop," "Reptilia," "Barely Legal," "Someday," "What Ever Happened?" and all that stuff. Again, these guys are professionals, and they delivered a set that seemed designed to satisfy just about everyone in the audience. It's interesting to see this band evolve into something so polished, when their early vibe was one of (carefully curated) NYC grit and energy. Now they stand on separate parts of the huge theater stage, they only rock out to the most tasteful standards, Julian is the only one who talks (though this may always have been the case), the focus having landed soundly on delivering the goods.
And deliver they did. Though Julian can't quite hit all those notes he used to, he still brings a lot of presence to a band that really needs it. They sound tight (especially on the old stuff), Fab Moretti is as precise a drummer as there is and Nick Valensi remains an underrated guitarist (the guitar playing on "Heart In A Cage," in particular, was outstanding). At one point during the set, a fan handed a letter to Julian, who seemed embarrassed as he debated whether to read it out loud, eventually only getting through the "dear Julian, Nick, Fab etc..." part before stopping short. The Strokes have never seemed entirely comfortable with the direction that their fame took (and their perceived fall of musical standards, though I would argue that First Impressions of Earth is actually really great), but at that LA show they seemed finally to have settled in to their status as an incredibly popular band in the way that a lot of classic rock bands are incredibly popular. As they closed with "Last Nite," it was hard not to get a few chills. That song, played by those guys, occupies rare territory; it's a classic. Whether they liked it or not, last night in LA they were kind of legends.
Setlist and a few videos from The Strokes' Wiltern show are below.
SETLIST: The Strokes @ The Wiltern 7/25/2016
The Modern Age
Threat of Joy
Welcome to Japan
Heart in a Cage
Is This It
Hard to Explain
What Ever Happened?
Trying Your Luck
New York City Cops
You Only Live Once