SXSW showcase reviews
Reviewed by Greg Beets, Fri., March 18, 2011
The StrokesAuditorium Shores, Thursday, March 17
Playing to a large, green-garbed crowd at sunset, the Strokes hit the stage 15 fashionable minutes late with "What Ever Happened?" from 2003's Room on Fire. Even accounting for the inevitable festival sound getting lost in the wind, the stoic NYC quintet sounded thin and uneven early on. None of the first few songs were enough to tear you away from the beer line. Like their new album, Angles, the Strokes sounded like a competent but uninspired shadow of their former selves. Heard live, "Under Cover of Darkness" only confirmed that the best songs on Angles aren't fit to be filler on Is This It. But as the set wore on, the band started showing flashes of energy. The first spark was the perfectly pitched combination of transistor pop and art school dissonance on "New York City Cops." Then "Someday" struck with the force of an era-defining anthem. Following "Take It or Leave It," Julian Casablancas and company abruptly left the stage without a word. It took the crowd several beats to realize they were gone. As "Last Nite" inevitably closed the set, fireworks began bursting in air, solidifying the song's status as the "1812 Overture" of early 21st century indie pop.