Taking The Strokes

The Strokes
The Plaza of Nations, Vancouver
April 16, 2004
One plane ticket and nearly 700km later, I found myself standing in one of the most beautiful venues I have ever been lucky enough to walk into (even the Strokes thought so). Sitting on the edge of False Creek, The Plaza of Nations is an open air venue conveniently (and thankfully) covered by glass to shelter you from the inevitable Vancouver rain. What better place to take in a performance by one of the world's most exciting bands?

After quite a few moments of false hope, stupidly thinking every time a roadie walked on stage it was actually a band member, the Strokes quietly took the stage. If anyone thought the audience was already rowdy (apparently pot is the provincial flower of B.C.), then they had another thing coming. The band opened with 'Automatic Stop' from Room on Fire, and the mosh pit immediately expanded to include more than half of the people in the venue. Not wanting to die too young, I decided my safest bet was to stand near the back, away from the stage. It didn't even matter that the band looked more like fireflies than people from where I stood because the Strokes are so incredibly amazing live. No one seemed to care what sort of view they had of the stage, for every single person in the audience was utterly captivated by the Strokes; not one set of eyes in the packed venue was turned astray.

Highlights of the night included ballad 'Under Control', during which lead singer Julian Casablancas congratulated Vancouver for being the site of the first incident of crowd surfing to that particular song. The band also included all of their singles in the set, and when a member of the audience screamed for the newest, Casablancas immediately replied, "You want 'Reptilia'? You fucking got it!" This sent the crowd into a complete frenzy, the likes of which I have never seen before.

Casablancas kept up his witty repartee with the crowd for the entire night, although more often than not it came out as an unidentifiable slur. The other members of the band appeared to be in their own worlds, especially bassist Nikolai Fraiture. For most of the performance he was lurking in the clouds of smoke created partially by the dry ice machine and partially by the crowd like some modern-day Frankenstein shielding himself from the audience's watchful eye.

After 50 minutes of pure modern-day Rock N' Roll, Julian Casablancas announced that the last song would be 'Take It Or Leave It' before the Strokes ended what turned out to be the best concert I have ever attended. As per usual the performance was devoid of an encore and before the last note had finished ringing the Strokes glided off the stage as silently as they had entered.

It was amazing to experience a band of this calibre in their prime instead of latching onto reunion tours and grisly remains. The Strokes are definitely worth checking out live and if ever Julian Casablancas asks you to take it or leave it, I hope to dear God that you take it.

Writer: Jaclyn Arndt


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