They dropped two jams from the new album To the 5 Boroughs, spastic single "Ch-Check It Out" and the memory-lane stroll of "Right Right Now Now." They reached all the way back for "Brass Monkey," and served up a slew of '90s hits. Quite simply, they killed.
The Beasties were tough to follow, and the Strokes initially didn't seem up to the task. The stuttering beat of opener "What Ever Happened?" was like many Fez-goers at this point: wobbly. Drummer Fab Morretti couldn't find the groove.
When they plunged into the jittery rush of "Hard to Explain," they found their footing. Soon after, they trotted out "Last Night" and really seemed to catch fire. Guitarists Albert Hammond Jr. and Nick Valensi started trading barbed licks and the odd Stones-styled lead.
Even jet-set frontman Julian Casablancas seemed over the uncool task of playing a radiofest, and let down his strategically tousled hair. He was snapping and barking through "Reptilia" and crooning "Under Control" like a lovesick punk. Too bad so many fans had already filed out and missed a searing set.
About K-Rock's Dysfunctional Family Picnic from the New York Daily News:
While the Beasties were billed as the headliners, East Village hipsters The Strokes went on last. That would have been tough enough, but the group also had to follow an unannounced single-song performance by Brooklyn bling-bling kingpin Jay-Z. The Strokes rose to the challenge, playing a tight set of choppy guitar bursts, granite-solid beats and grandiose vocals. Front man Julian Casablancas looked sharp in his black jacket, though bassist Nikolai Fraiture's oversized sunglasses and headband brought to mind Jeff Daniels in "Dumb and Dumber."
The Strokes, however, were as focused as a laser beam, and about as undisturbed by the wind. Julian Casablancas' voice was uncommonly strong: He turned his usual detached cool into an intensely brooding stance and conveyed a conviction that isn't always evident on The Strokes' albums. On "Last Nite," he grabbed the microphone as if taking back something that was stolen and howled out the entire song.
The band, especially guitarist Nick Valensi, went ducking and diving, kicking up an outstanding racket on "What Ever Happened?" and the closing number, "Take It or Leave It." Though only half the audience remained at that point, they were the ones that saw alternative rock at its best.
About Live 105's BFD from the San Francisco Chronicle:
Two years ago, at Live 105's BFD summer festival, the Strokes played a desolate afternoon set to a half-empty Shoreline Amphitheatre. This year, they headlined over the Beastie Boys. What a difference two years makes.
Or does it? The Beastie Boys enjoyed the largest and most enthusiastic crowd, sending close to 15,000 concertgoers into a frenzy of call-and-response chanting. By the time the Strokes hit the stage at 10:15 p.m., some people were already heading for the exits, and by the time they finished their set 45 minutes later, empty seats peppered the venue.
To be fair, this probably reflects musical burnout more than deflated interest. BFD is always a long day: This year's festival kicked off at 1 p.m., and 10 hours is a commitment for masses redolent of beer, sunburn and burgers. Huge outdoor music extravaganzas are marathons. Some fans can go the distance; others are short-distance sprinters.
BFD 2004 exhibited the usual culture clashes - a giant Buddha statue facing off against an AOL promotion, break beats and pop-punk sharing air space. It also offered the requisite three-stage circus: The Subsonic tent for dance and hip-hop (Dizzee Rascal and the Streets ruled that stage); the Festival stage for rock acts (topped by New Found Glory and Bad Religion); and the main stage for what are ostensibly the biggest players.
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs opened the main stage with formidable sound problems. Singer Karen O's vocals were often buried beneath Nicolas Zinner's guitar, and Zinner's guitar in turn lost amplification on one song. The band still managed to turn in a typically manic show that brought a touch of after-hours madness to the early evening. The Violent Femmes followed, giving those old enough to remember a nostalgic fix with a set that included the '80s cult hit "Blister in the Sun."
After a DJ intro by Mixmaster Mike, the Beastie Boys started their set with two "Ill Communication"-era songs, "Root Down" and "Sure Shot." From there they moved into material from their latest album, "To the 5 Boroughs" --
including "That's It That's All," with its rhyming denunciation of the Bush administration: "That's it that's all George W.'s got nothing on we/We got to take the power from he."
Throughout the set, past favorites ("Body Movin' ", "Three MCs and One DJ") bounced off of new tracks ("Ch-Check It Out") as Beasties Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock), Adam Yauch (MCA) and Mike Diamond (Mike D) traded tag-team raps and proved their time off hasn't dulled their ability to work a crowd. No other hip-hop crew or rock band combines politics and surreal goofing so seamlessly, and the trio's 40-minute performance was the day's critical and crowd highlight.
The Strokes gave the hip-hop veterans a run for their money, though. The band credited with launching neo-garage has lost some of its gloss following tepid reviews for its sophomore album, but it's still one of the most promising young acts in rock. From singer Julian Casablancas' archly slurred savoir faire ("Love you too, baby") to the rest of the band's relentless New York cool, the Strokes' performance recalled the most impromptu hit-and-miss shows of '60s garage rock.
Often sloppy and occasionally surly, the Strokes were almost always compelling -- in spite of themselves. When Casablancas wasn't crashing through the crowd and rolling across the stage, he led his band mates through a repertoire that offered a few songs from 2001's "Is This It," but drew largely from last year's "Room on Fire." Low points included a tranquilized version of the first album's title track; the show's high point came with a gritty run through "Reptilia," which drew an enthusiastic roar from those in the crowd who stuck around long enough to hear it.
"Speak louder, fans, I can't hear you," drawled Casablancas, pulling himself back onstage after yet another foray into the audience. He checked the set list and scowled. "I hate this song," he said of "Reptilia." Then, "No, I love this song. It's a good f -- song."
He began singing. One verse in, he tackled the venue's video cameraman. Terribly unprofessional. Very, very rock 'n' roll.