Tales from Suburban Bohemia: The Strokes
This post originally appeared on Stumpy Moose on 19 March, 2002, and was migrated to PraguePig.com on 17 February, 2019.
The Strokes wasn’t just a concert, it was an event.
It’s not often that a young band, at the height of its popularity, comes to Prague. Normally, we’re stuck with bands in their sunset years, trying to eke every last eurocent out their European tour. Bands like Jethro Tull or Judas Priest. Or The Fall, I suppose.
To add to the excitement, someone e-mailed a terrorist threat to The Prague Post on the day of the show:
From: Bohemia Bagel Internet Cafe
Subject: (no subject)
Date: Thu, Mar 7, 2002, 5:07 PM
This is to inform you that if the Strokes play Prague tomorrow there
will be violence at the show.
We at the Pan Islamic Front feel that the abnd represents a country that
is at war with the Muslim world, killing innocent people every day, and
it is our duty to highlight this using any means necessary.
It never seemed very credible: Would members of the “Pan Islamic Front” really be hanging out in a bagel shop? But it added an extra frisson of excitement to the evening.
I had mental images of rock ‘n’ roll anarchy. Gun-toting Arab terrorists battling guitar-wielding New York rock stars, like some crazy Ramones movie.
In the end though, the show was a disappointment.
Don’t get me wrong. The Strokes aren’t a bad guitar band.
But the burden of hype and expectation weighed too heavily. I was expecting more than a good band. I was expecting the future of rock ‘n’ roll.
Unfortunately, The Strokes might’ve been the future of rock ‘n’ roll if they’d come out in 1975 but in 2002 they don’t quite cut the mustard.
To be honest, I’m not even sure if rock ‘n’ roll has a future. Rock seems to be going the way of jazz, and before too long I think it’s going to be the preserve of beard-stroking aficionados.
I’m pushing 30 and I haven’t set foot on a dancefloor since elephant flares were fashionable but most of the music I listen to these days is bleeps and beats, or at least guitar bands that occasionally nod in that direction.
So far, The Strokes have refused to embrace any technology or fashion beyond 1979. It gives them a distinctive style, and it warms the hearts of nostalgic old rock critics but it ultimately condemns them to the rock ‘n’ roll heritage centre.
On the plus side, I enjoyed the support band, Stereo Total, an energetic, slightly loopy German male-female duo.
Combining elements of Shonen Knife, St. Etienne and Steve Martin stand-up comedy, they were funny, fresh and natural and won over a doubtful audience.
They’ll never sell more than a fraction of the records The Strokes sell, and at the end of the show they packed away their own equipment.
They weren’t the future of rock ‘n’ roll either, but they were a lot of fun.