CHICAGO — It was 11:30 p.m. Friday, and the line to the doors of the Metro stretched all the way to the end of Clark Street. Everyone was there to see a band that had never played in Chicago, much less most of the United States.
But thanks to the powers of hype, The Strokes managed to sell out a midnight show at the Metro. Well, hype and the fact that the New York band’s debut album This Is It is really, really good.
The crowd filtered in, and openers The Moldy Peaches hit the stage. A six-piece outfit complete with costumes and song titles like “Who’s Got the Crack?,” The Moldy Peaches were mildly amusing for approximately the first two songs of their set. Following those two, they played something like 8,000 more as my attention span drifted elsewhere.
When The Moldy Peaches were finally done, the audience got to watch The Strokes’ road crew perform their amazingly meticulous pre-show act. This act included checking the microphones and tuning the band’s guitars about 8,000 times, and opening a number of beers and water bottles for them — which I assume was a protective measure to ensure that the group wouldn’t injure their hands in between songs.
Following their road crew’s stunning performance, the Strokes waited an unnecessary amount of time before finally taking the stage at 2:00 a.m. And as soon as they launched into the album’s title track, I instantly forgot how annoyed I was about the delay. Guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. and drummer Fabrizio Moretti were astounding, holding together the band’s neo-Velvet Underground songbook while a drunken Julian Casablancas sang, stumbled, fell on the monitors, and occasionally informed the crowd, “We love y’all ? fuck y’all.”
The band played all the songs from the album, as well as one new song. The song, titled “When It Started,” will be the replacement track on the U.S. release of This Is It — the band pulled the song “New York City Cops” in light of the Sept. 11 tragedies (the chorus of the song is, “New York City cops/ They ain’t too smart”).
The Strokes rock, no questions asked. But harboring such a grandiose rock-star attitude when you’re a band of rich New York City kids who haven’t been around for very long . . . well, that’s not exactly a must. While some fans might consider that part of the magic, it’s actually just really pretentious.