Live: The Strokes, Austin – Fail!
(Editor’s Note: Our Austin correspondent Lily Angelle opens her coverage of the Austin City Limits Festival by attending a “pre-show” by The Strokes Wednesday … there were no freebies to the local media, so no press and no professional photographers on hand. Our intrepid correspondent paid $75 for her ticket, and needless to say, she was slightly disappointed.)
Many will agree that The Strokes’ ACL pre-show at Stubb’s BBQ last night did not meet expectations – what an understatement! The band has been on hiatus for about five years now, so the announcement of their tour came as a pleasant surprise to fans.
The Strokes signed to play the big Austin City Limits Festival this weekend, as well as a warmup pre-show at the Stubb’s Barbecue outdoor arena. We patiently awaited their visit to Austin just to be met with severe disappointment after last night’s mediocre performance Wednesday night.
I arrived at the venue two hours before the gates opened only to find a line already wrapped around the building. I took my place and began fiddling with my camera, adjusting the settings and preparing it to take some great close-ups of Julian Casablancas. A Stubb’s employee saw me and said no cameras were allowed into the venue whatsoever. What’s up with that?
As people passed through security, bags were checked for cameras. People were forced to take their cameras back to their cars; I had taken the bus so I quickly shoved my camera into my shirt and passed through security, who, by the way, treat concert-goers as if they were loading livestock for the slaughterhouse.
The Strokes finally made their appearance onstage two hours after the gates opened, and two hours is a long time to stand in a crowd of overly excited high school kids, and the fact that there was no opening act only made things worse.
So, finally … the Strokes. After making the crowd wait for two hours, they played a 45-minute set! With a break! Are you kidding? (Wait, I’m not kidding.) Granted, the music was phenomenal and they played most of their well-known songs (but nothing new). However, for the amount of time and money fans put up to see The Strokes, we were definitely left out to dry. Everyone felt gypped. People I talked to after the show felt as if the band treated the performance as just a practice for their ACL appearance on Friday.
The last humongous problem was the venue itself. Security did a terrible job at maintaining order and controlling the “mosh pit.” One guy fainted before the show even began, and it took security a good five minutes before they came to take him to safety. About a quarter of the way into the show, a guy in the VIP section apparently had a seizure from the flashing stage lights and fell over the stairwell. He was left dangling, with his pants falling down, for at least three minutes before security managed to pull him back up over the stairwell.
I managed to stay in the mosh pit for only three songs before having to be pulled out. Worrying about having your internal organs crushed really deflects attention away from what you came there to see. I finally managed to find a halfway decent place way in the back, and during my search for a spot where I could see the stage I missed my favorite song, “You Only Live Once.”
After the show I made my way to the stage to get a picture of the drum kit. Devoted fans stood there booing and cursing the band, flabbergasted that The Strokes did not even reappear onstage for an encore after their short set.
Even though I did witness a great rock band play Wednesday night, it was not at the right place and it completely lacked “magic.”
YouTube: The Strokes at Stubb’s doing “Someday”
YouTube: “You Only Live Once”