4/14 Julian Casablancas @ La Zona Rosa
Wednesday night was a busy one for the ATH crew in Austin, TX. We had a few folks over at the White Rabbits/Here We Go Magic show, a couple at the Bonobo show, and a even one or two over at Adi’s indie karaoke shindig. I however couldn’t pass up the chance to see one of the great front men of the past decade, Mr. Julian Casablancas. Follow the jump for a quick review and more photos.
Being as the show started so early (8pm), we just barely made it into La Zona Rosa on Thursday to catch the entire set by opening band Funeral Party. I honestly didn’t know too much about this L.A. upstart prior to the show and they didn’t really entice me to learn more about them afterwards. It’s not like they were awful by any means, I just didn’t find their sound terribly unique or intriguing to my tastes. They came off sounding at times like The Rapture or Franz Ferdinand mixed with some guitar riffs similar to The Strokes(irony much?) or The Walkmen. Lead singer Chad Elliot also seemed to be taking some notes on his headliner Casablancas as his vocal style and movements are stylistically similar to The Strokes frontman. Yes it may sound like a recipe for success, but they just weren’t doing it for me. They did have tons of energy so they’ve got that going for them.
After what seemed like an eternity, Mr. Casablancas finally graced the stage to much cheering and camera flashing from the crowd. Julian and his band immediately jumped into several tracks from his debut solo LP Phrazes for the Young which hit stores last year. Each song from the new LP sounded a thousand times better in the live setting with Julian’s barritone voice crooning and belting out each and every note. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that the leading man has yet to lose any of his amazing vocal capabilities and is still one of the best in my book. He knows how to please a crowd, work a mic, and even dressed the part (black sequened leather jacket anyone?).
Highlights from the evening go to favorites from the new LP “Out of the Blue”, “Glass” and night closing “The Tourist”. Julian’s road dog backing band gave a lot of life to the electronic oriented tracks and gave me a new appreciation of the solo record. I even found myself jamming out to some of the new stuff after the show… The crowd also went crazy when Casablancas and his band went into a hurried rendition of Strokes tune “Hard to Explain” from their debut LP Is This It. Another Strokes song, “I’ll Try Anything Once”, which is an early demo version of First Impressions of Earth track “You Only Live Once”, came in midway through the set. All these songs, including Julian’s version of “I Wish it Was Christmas Today”, were incredible live and truly highlight the unique voice of Casablancas.
My only complaints of the night would be the shortish set of only about an hour and the double encore. “No we were like really done that time…” Come one Julian, don’t bullshit us. Bothwere only minor detractors from an otherwise stellar set.
On a somewhat side note, a question came up last night after the show: What will be the legacy of Julian and The Strokes in say 10 years? Thye came to prominence at the dawning of the digital age so can they really have a lasting impact similar to say Nirvana of the 90s? I doubt they’ll reach that sort of noteriety, but isn’t it something to think about? We are now 10 years removed from the band’s debut LP and all members are still in the business, influencing others, and about to reunite for and album/tour. How many bands can you count that have ripped off the Strokes sound (hell the opening band did to some extent). Not to say that The Strokes were the first to do it, they just made it cool again. Would bands like Kings of Leon, The Von Bondies, and tons of others be around without The Strokes? I can’t say yes or no to that, but it’s something to think about. In my opinion, ten years from now, The Strokes along With Jack White will be talked about as the real trend setters of the decade.
Fancy photos from the show are provided by the lovely Jonathon Edwards.