The Strokes and Guided By Voices Take Over the Apollo Theater

'Us white guys at the fucking Apollo. Not the usual shit,' says frontman Julian Casablancas

February 14, 2002
The Strokes, The Fillmore, Fabrizio Moretti, Albert Hammond Jr, Nick Valensi, Julian Casablancas and Nikolai Fraiture
Julian Casablancas of The Strokes performs at the House of Blues on January 30th, 2002 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Scott Harrison/Getty

The Strokes
Apollo Theater
Harlem, New York
December 30, 2001

Singer Julian Casablancas of the Strokes caught tonight's abnormal magic perfectly: “Us white guys at the fucking Apollo,” ha said, slightly dazed, as if he'd just bumped into the ghosts of Redd Foxx and Jackie Wilson. “Not the usual shit.”

Not by a long shot. The Strokes and Guided by Voices — young devils and tough old birds, respectively, of alt-pop — were so far uptown they needed passports to get off the subway. On the first of the bands' two nights here (they came back for New Year's Eve), the audience was so cowed by the history and intimacy of the Apollo that no one stood up when the Strokes lit into their opener, “When It Started” — until Casablancas flew into the crowd and harangued everyone out of their seats.

Pearl Jam Plan Birthday Blowout With Strokes, Queens of the Stone Age

There was no reason to sit after that. In soul-revue style, each band played a pair of alternating blitzkrieg sets, which suited the setting and the silver-bullet temper of the music. The Strokes tore through most of Is This It plus two new songs with combative joy. Guitarists Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond Jr. hit the climactic bridge of “Alone, Together” with twice the blood and speed of the Strokes' club gigs a year ago. Fabrizio Moretti's robotic drums in “Meet Me in the Bathroom” beat like a black heart under the golden splash of the guitars.

GBV played a box set's worth of tunes in their two sets but invested singer-songwriter Robert Pollard's punk-pop miniatures with rock-opera force: heave-ho choruses, meaty guitars. Live, the hairpin hooks and wordplay in “Eureka Signs” and “Tight Globes” sounded like Who's Next pulled through the eye of a needle. The Strokes and GBV teamed for a boozy encore of “My Valuable Hunting Knife” that would have gotten 'em booed off on Apollo amateur night. Yet in every other way, this was a great night in a special place: light on R&B but full of bright white noise.

This story is from the February 14th, 2002 issue of Rolling Stone. 

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories


The Pack | 2006

Berkeley, California rappers the Pack made their footwear choice clear in 2006 with the song "Vans." The track caught the attention of Too $hort, who signed them to his imprint. MTV refused to play the video for the song, though, claiming it was essentially a commercial for the product. Rapper Lil' B disagreed. "I didn’t know nobody [at] Vans," he said. "I was just a rapper who wore Vans." Even without MTV's support, Lil' B recognized the impact of the track. "God blessed me with such a revolutionary song… People around my age know who really started a lot of the dressing people are into now."

More Song Stories entries »