Concert review: Julian Casablancas at Rams Head Live
Midnight Sun writer Patrick Gavin saw Julian Casablancas last night at Rams Head Live. Here is his review:
"Nice little crowd we got here, Baltimore, f--- yeah!"
Nothing masks disappointment like a casual expletive. The operative word in that quote from Julian Casablancas, the Strokes front man turned solo artist, was "little."
"Little" as in Rams Head Live last night opted to cordon off its second and third floors because the modest crowd could comfortably fit in the downstairs stage/bar area.
"Little" as in this crowd would be considered a tad scant for the cover act Mr. Greengenes, who played the same venue two nights prior, let alone the guy who did as much for the garage rock revival on both sides of the Atlantic in the 2000s as Jack White.
"Little" as in ... all right, all right. Suffice it to say that Mr. Casablancas could have helped that humble pie go down a bit smoother ...
We get it, Julian. You're 31 and you're not Billy Joel, so fans shouldn't expect you to kick out the old jams exclusively. By all means, don't rest solely on your laurels. Play the new album. It's heavy but stout (like Guinness!) at only eight tracks. Play the thing "Dark Side"-style beginning to end if you like. But give us a couple Strokes hits too.
When played live, "Phrazes" gains a raucous post-punk edge sorely missing from the synthed-up studio version, on which tracks like "Ludlow St." can sound like one of those six-minute Rufus Wainwright songs that's a little too grandiose for its own good.
What Mr. Casablanca's show sorely missed were out-and-out crowd-pleasers. For those who wore their dancing shoes Sunday night, only "Hard to Explain" gave them opportunity to use 'em.
The famously confident singer even registered his anxiety, saying "I always focus on the people who are bored. I don't know why." This was after playing a song, "30 minute boyfriend," that can only be purchased as a throw-in for those who buy his entire album electronically. Those folks he was staring at might have been less bored on the heels of "Someday," "Take It or Leave It" or "Reptilia."
Lord knows Mr. Casablancas and his supporting band – complete with three axmen, two drummers, and a versatile sixth man – had the firepower to pull off any of the old burners. But after a short set capped with the "Saturday Night Live" skit-based "I Wish It Was Christmas Today," no doubt many fans were left wondering, "Is this it?"
1. Ludlow St.
2. River of Brakelights
3. Out of the Blue
4. New Song
5. 11th Dimension
6. I'll Try Anything Once
7. 30 Minute Boyfriend
8. Hard to Explain
9. Left & Right in the Dark
4 Chords of the Apocalypse
I Wish it was Christmas Today (based on the "SNL" skit)
(Photo by Williams + Hirakawa)