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The Strokes
April 2, 2006 – Roseland Theatre – Portland, OR
April 4, 2006 – Paramount Theatre – Seattle, WA

by Ashley Graham

I should go into this with my cards on the table. As I sit down to recount last week’s Strokes experiences my new $40 sweatshirt acquired at the Paramount is on, my $15 buttons I got at the Roseland are sitting on the desk in front of me, and over my shoulder on the dining table is the newest in my collection of (I just counted) 11 Strokes t-shirts.
First Impressions of Earth is playing on my stereo (specifically, “On the Other Side”). The gigantic poster of the 2002 SPIN cover declaring the Strokes “Band of the Year” is framed on the wall to my right, next to a framed promotional poster from South America from the Is This It era, adorned with Sharpie marks of 4 of the 5 Strokes. On my nightstand there’s a vinyl copy of Room on Fire, also Sharpie adorned with love, and also framed. On the shelf below it there’s a stack of magazines—The Oregonian, March 31, 2006; SPIN, February 2006; American Songwriter, March 2006; New York magazine, January 16, 2006 (a duplicate copy of which is within eyesight framed on my desk). My emotional investment in this band is as clear as my financial one. I love the Strokes.

Yeah, we got the photo pass, and yeah, we scored some review tickets, but I’d forked over the $40 for each of my tickets months ago. I’d bought my bus ticket to Portland and I’d taken the day following the show off from work. This is what we do when we love a band. And the Strokes are a perfect example of what you get in return, if you’re lucky.

I’ve loved a few bands in my day, but there’s something distinctly different and inexplicable about loving the Strokes. I think my fellow fans would agree. And as I have become more entangled with music, and as our relationship has grown, I’ve found myself becoming more and more distant from the original intention of our involvement—that fanatic, live it and love it mentality. There has not been a band since the Strokes that has inspired this same level excitement in me. And in my current position, doing what I do, I’m not sure there will be again. Everything right now seems to maintain a mediocre level in my heart—I fucking love the new Sounds album but can still only get so excited about it, I got the new Tilly and the Wall album a couple months ago and have only listened a couple of times. It’s a marked indifference that is extremely troubling. But all of it goes away when we’re talking about the Strokes.

If we’re talking about the Strokes, then I’m still the one smashed up into the front row, rubbing my bruised underarms the next day while I tell you it was the most magical experience of my life. I’m still the one yelling the words at the show, eyes wide for days from the excitement, listening to the albums every chance I get because it makes me feel in some small way like I’m still there. I’m still the one telling you you’re a fool for not loving them too, and taking every opportunity I can to tell you how fantastic they are in every detail—the way Julian gripped the microphone stand, the way Fab smoked his cigarette while playing with both hands, the way Albert’s white suit fit, the way Nikolai jumped atop the drum platform in the last song, and the way Nick’s long locks rested on his shoulders. The build up and power of “Ize of the World,” the simplistic, intimate beauty of “Ask Me Anything,” and the still so fucking great “New York City Cops.”  The lights, unlike anything before, the songs, replete with a whole new power, the confidence, warranted after such a powerful reemergence. It’s all there, and it’s all the perfect testament to what the Strokes have to offer.

Twenty, thirty years from now THIS is the band people are going to remember from this time, our time, and still be talking about. There have been bands in the last five years trying to copy them, but they can’t sound as good as the Strokes, and they sure as hell can’t put on a show like the Strokes. Armed with the best songs of their career, the Strokes on stage and off, are better than ever.

As I exited the Roseland, a woman behind me told her friend, “I feel like I just saw history.” And with all the excitement swirling about, and the songs still ringing in my ears, I had to turn around and say to her, “We did.”



There is plenty of additional Strokes love in our
ARCHIVES. And! see photos from the April 4 show here.

And, nope, opener Eagles of Death Metal wasn't forgotten! Check back next week for "15 Minutes on the Tour Bus with Jesse Hughes."

Editor's Note: The t-shirts have been recounted and listed. I can now confirm there are 14, not 11.