THE STROKES with MOLDY PEACHES and PEte yorn at the Horseshoe, October 2. Tickets: free. Attendance: 500. Rating: NNNN
clearly, the strokes have a senseof humour about the tidal wave of hype surrounding them.With a sweaty captive audience jammed into the Horseshoe, the New York quintet had a laugh and made the crowd sit through 45 minutes of the Moldy Peaches before playing their own 30-minute set.
Fleshed out into a six-piece ensemble, the Peaches' freak show was unlistenable from the get-go, with bug-eyed vocalists Adam Green and Kimya Dawson yelping back and forth in ditties like Who's Got The Crack and Steak For Chicken. The phrase "worst band ever" was heard more than once.
Of course, had some industry hipsters left, space might have opened up for the hundreds of Strokes fans stuck in line outside the Shoe with an infinitesimal chance of getting inside. Putting the most hyped band of the moment in a tiny club where only a fraction of the "free" tickets are actually available to fans might do wonders for the ego, but it isn't exactly fair.
The obvious question was whether the band itself would be worth the hassle. The answer: yes.
The Strokes aren't exactly the most vibrant live rock band on the planet. They played the uptight pop from their Is This It debut note for note and almost in order, while slurring, incoherent singer Julian Casablancas restricted most of his between-song banter to the word "fuck." Nonetheless, there was still a throbbing energy to the show, sparked in part by a roomful of people who knew every word to songs from an album that won't be officially released for a couple of weeks.
It was a volatile concoction. The band itself was disturbingly tight, adding the crucial visceral edge to songs like Take It Or Leave It that was snuffed out on their no-fi recording, and the lurching Casablancas looked like he was about to explode.
Prefacing the song that was pulled from their album in the wake of September 11, he snarled about how "fucking cops killed more fucking people than they fucking saved" before tearing through a vengeful version of New York City Cops.
It was the kind of event where disgusted punk kids show up afterwards to draw dollar signs on the Strokes' promo posters on the street, and fans stand outside debating how long it will be before the band simply bursts into flames.
Hype is hype. The Strokes are the real deal.