The Governors Ball lineup was released earlier this week and it once again has the Strokes headlining one of the three evenings. Amazingly enough, this will mark the third time they’ve played the New York City festival in just five years. It’s all the more incredible when you consider that the Strokes have played a mere 20 shows since the conclusion of their 2011 tour and haven’t stepped on a stage together anywhere in nearly two years.
It wasn’t always like this. Back in 2001, the Strokes played well over 100 shows to promote their debut album Is This It. They began at clubs like the Black Cat in Washington, D.C., and the Bowery Ballroom in New York, but as the hype went into overdrive they found themselves on the stage of massive European festivals playing to an ocean of screaming fans. “They’re the most exciting thing I’d seen since the Stone Roses,” said Noel Gallagher at the time. “I think they’re the most important band right now in the world for what they may inspire other people to do.”
Check out video right here of them playing “New York City Cops” at Scotland’s T in the Park where they shared the stage with Muse, James, Stereophonics and David Gray. The Strokes hadn’t even released Is This It yet, but the hysteria around them was already overwhelming. The album was supposed to come out in America in late September, but the date was pushed back following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Not wanting to release a song with a chorus that states “New York City cops … they ain’t too smart” after so many of them died trying to save lives in the Twin Towers, the song was taken off the U.S. album and replaced with “When It Started.”
Two years after their breakthrough year, Rolling Stone called them “the new kings of rock” in a cover story, but they were soon hobbled by changing musical tastes, Julian Casablancas’ severe drinking problem and Albert Hammond Jr.’s heroin addiction. After their 2011 tour in support of Angles they basically gave up on the whole idea of sustained roadwork in favor of very, very brief festival runs most every summer as they devote the majority of their time and attention to various side projects. (It could be argued that, at least to Casablancas, the Strokes are now the side project and the Voidz are his primary band.)
The last time the Strokes did a show was April 2nd, 2017, at Lollapalooza Chile and the set list featured 10 of the 11 songs from Is this It (“Alone, Together” was the only one they didn’t do) and not a single tune from their two most recent albums. It’s unclear if they plan on making another album, but they are supposedly going on a “global comeback” tour this year. So far, that seems to just mean hitting the European festival circuit and Governors Ball. This isn’t the future many foresaw back in 2001, but considering everything they’ve endured it’s a small miracle the original lineup is still intact and playing shows at all.