The Strokes in concert, 2006
The Strokes in concert, 2006

The Strokes played a jaw-dropping secret gig in their hometown of New York last week – and only a few hundred lucky fans found out about the show.

The Strokes are currently blazing a trail across North America supporting their album ‘Room On Fire‘. Now headed towards the end of the dates, last week the band were back home to record an appearance on Late Night With Conan O’Brien. However, they had and extra surprise up their sleeves.

Without the usual touts, hangers-on and stragglers you find outside high-profile gigs in NYC, The Strokes performed and energetic hour-long ‘secret’ show at the Bowery Ballroom venue with hardly any fuss. Members of the band’s Alone, together fan club were invited down to see the intimate performance as a thank-you for their support over the las two years.

One lucky fan who blagged his way inside told: “I heard a rumour The Strokes were playing but I didn’t have a ticket. I turned up at the Ballroom looking for a way to buy one but when I got there I had a quiet word with an official-looking person who told me I was allowed in for free!”.

Drew Barrymore (Strokes drummer Fab Morreti’s girlfriend) and Interpol’s Paul Bank and Carlos Dengler to see one of the gigs of The Strokes’ fans’ live. The Intimacy of the small club made the songs played even more remarkable. Where the previous week’s gigs at the Theatre At Madison Square Garden showed them to be true perfectionists, the Bowery show saw The Strokes enjoying the fun parts of being a band.

During the set singer Julian Casablancas dropped to the floor to sing up close and personal with fans, jumping into the crowed and even performing with a pair of girl’s pants on his head. Albert Hammond Jr and Nick Valensi were both wearing huge smiles and seemed to really enjoy being back on a smaller stage, while Nikolai Fraiture laid low as he often does.

While Julian was his usual smoking, slurring, stumbling self, he was still very much the star of the show. But it wasn’t bravado. It was appreciation for the fact that their fans have stood by them. Early into the set he grave a rose to a fan who desperately wanter to hear ‘Trying Your Luck‘, even though they weren’t going to play it.

If the Garden shows proved the superstar status The Strokes have earned, the looseness of the Bowery show reaffirmed the local band ethos they have always stuck to. Support at the gig came from local NYC singer-songwriter Regina Spektor; and like their gigs last month, the band got her onstage for a duet with song ‘Modern Girls’.

“Usually this is the last song we play,” Julian said before the duet. “Then we walk off the stage and you cheer for an encore. Then we say. ‘Fuck you, we don’t do encores.’ Tonight, we have a treat for you. Where’s Regina Spektor?”.

After their duet, the band closed with ‘Reptilia‘, during which Julian tried to knock down the disco ball above with his mic stand.

© NME July 31, 2004

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