Watch: The Strokes Begin Their 2001 Tour In Philadelphia

by Eric Van Dril · 37 comments

Yeah, these are 10 years old, but I’d never seen these videos before tonight and they’re incredible.

The embed option is unfortunately disabled by for Is This It, which is the second song in the set. In the interest of continuity, you can click here and watch the entire set in order without touching anything (just let the videos load on their own).

Almost every time I watch videos of The Strokes in 2001, the thing that stands out isn’t drunk Julian or what they’re wearing or any of that extraneous garbage people seem to focus on. I constantly think about what it would have been like to see them on that first tour — when they’re the it band, but still playing clubs — and hear a song like The Modern Age or Someday or Trying Your Luck or New York City Cops for the first time. I mean, can you imagine…

The way The Strokes delivered the 13 songs they played on November 14, 2001 in Philly is undeniable. The songs may not be perfect, but the band, in that moment in time, was.

{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

1 alEX July 11, 2011 at 8:22 pm

The Strokes NEED to come back to PHILLY!!!!!

2 Eric Van Dril July 11, 2011 at 8:24 pm

@alEX — They’ll be back.

3 Lauren July 11, 2011 at 8:54 pm

Wow! It’s so strange to see how much Julian’s voice has changed.

4 Chase July 11, 2011 at 8:59 pm

How is his voice so clear? It doesn’t sound like a live recording at all, let alone one taken in 2001 on the equipment of the age (this looks like an audience shoot).

Not questioning the validity, I’m just kinda dumbfounded that it’s so clear.

5 Ben July 11, 2011 at 9:13 pm

Awesome. This is and will always be the Strokes to me. Their prime. Total perfection.

6 Mykel July 11, 2011 at 9:30 pm

I would have loved to see them early on. God I hope their US tour is like this, up close and personal venues.

7 AdamFS July 11, 2011 at 9:35 pm

I remember this tour well. I was 20, a college student in Davis, California, and made the weekday drive down to see the boys play at the Fillmore in SF. Dragged a reluctant friend along, who at the time found a certain opening act (The Moldy Peaches) much more entertaining than the headliners (“I just don’t get it,” she muttered on our way out). I still tease her about this.

Julian was indeed drunk, smoking on stage, literally strangling the mic-stand, sans eye contact with the crowd, and I remember thinking he looked really young and even more scared. He initiated the set with a formal declaration: “We don’t do any fucking encores, so here we go.” The band proceeded to rip though the entire IS THIS IT tracklist, front to back, inserting “When It Started” just before “NYC Cops” (capped off with an I-heart-NY shirt toss to the audience). It’s all they had to play. We were out of there in 35 minutes, tops.

Eric’s absolutely right in his assessment. I’d never seen a show like that in my life. It was crass, too fast but impeccably timed, unapologetic, and a mess of raw, sweaty joy. And it’s just what every one in that room needed to hear, see and take in. The timing of it all couldn’t have been more fitting. Two months after 9/11, people were mentally and creatively exhausted. But at the moment Julian jumped off the stage backward into the crowd (Fruit of the Loom in my face) during Albert’s “Take It Or Leave It” knee-deep guitar solo, life was palpable, tangible… that crowd could have saved the world that night (minus my friend, I suppose).

8 Ben July 11, 2011 at 9:38 pm

This article from the Guardian is, in large part, about this very show and the band hanging out backstage afterwards. Very telling, especially about Julian’s ambivalence surrounding his early fame. Check it out. http://www.guardian.co.uk/theobserver/2001/dec/16/life1.lifemagazine5

9 Eric July 11, 2011 at 9:43 pm

@Adam — That was beautifully said.

10 AdamFS July 11, 2011 at 9:54 pm

@Eric– I chatted with you about this, maybe a year or so ago. Obviously I’m lacking a lot of detail and other anecdotes, but I’ve gotta admit, it’s the first time I’ve really written about it.

11 tyler July 12, 2011 at 12:30 am

Wow nice to see the boys young. For more nostalgia, check this nyc video out.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cinrP6krr_k&feature=related

Tell me what you think!

12 wolfman July 12, 2011 at 1:16 am

if only nick’s guitar was a little louder

13 thomass July 12, 2011 at 2:20 am

that article….. wow….. what an experience…………

14 Jj July 12, 2011 at 4:02 am

Wauw. Julian you motherfucket. He is so brilliant it hurts. The rest is also so nice and charming.

15 KEVIN July 12, 2011 at 4:42 am

@Chase – This sounds like a straight board recording with no audience or room mics mixed in. His voice is so clear probably because the room was small and the sound guy didn’t need to pump much guitar through the board. This audio source is most definitely not coming from the video camera, they were just synced up after the fact. Does this make sense?

16 Mike in Queens July 12, 2011 at 6:11 am

Thank you so much for posting this! It brings back great memories. I saw them the next night in Pittsburgh when they played “Meet Me in the Bathroom” for the second time. It’s incredible how much they’ve grown. I met Albert at the show and he was a very nice guy. He was standing near the bar, no one talking to him, watching the opening act. When a very pretty lady recognized him and vied for his attention, I told him to break a leg and started to walk away. He gave me a “thank you” with a look that said “very cool of you to let me talk to this lady.” I was a freshman in college but Nick only had one year on me.
The show was great and I think most people there knew they were seeing something special. Last Night wasn’t on MTV in heavy rotation yet and May J. Blige had the #1 single (had to Wikipedia that). The club was set up so that if you were over 21, you had to stand on the second level to drink. Everyone on the floor was under 21. During Take it or Leave it, Julian smashed the mic stand and passed out cold Heinekens to the underage folks on the floor. A great memory.

17 Louis July 12, 2011 at 10:03 am

‘Don’t you know about the importance of The Hug,’ Nick Valensi, the band’s tall, tough and hedonistic 20-year-old guitarist asked me in a parking lot during an earlier encounter this summer. ‘The band that hugs together stays together.’

Times change.

18 Agueda July 12, 2011 at 10:09 am

:)

19 Chase July 12, 2011 at 1:42 pm

@Kevin

Perfect sense, dunno why I didn’t think of that. It was a little disconcerting for such clarity to be paired with the typical grainy audience shoot, haha

Also: The Guardian article was awesome.

20 tyler July 12, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Wait what the fuck? Meet me in the bathroom is a song of room on fire, this cant be 2 moths after september 11. Fishy.

21 Ben July 12, 2011 at 2:07 pm

@Tyler,

Meet Me in the Bathroom was the first song written for Room on Fire. According to that Guardian article, this was the first times they performed it and it was only four days old.

22 Lulu July 12, 2011 at 2:24 pm

Right. Read the article, and to refer to the issue raised by Mr. Tyler, who obviously did NOT read the article, and probably should:

We leave The Strokes as we found them, chatting to fans after another explosive and rapturously received show. A show, incidentally, at which an excellently angular, four-day-old new song called ‘Meet Me in The Bathroom’ is premiered. Perhaps that creative crisis can be averted.

# The Observer, Sunday 16 December 2001

Thank you for the article. Insightful look into the past and origins of The Strokes. Prescient in some instances and makes their current success more poignant.

Thank you so much for the article. I was too young to have experienced that time of The Strokes. This was a great read. Kind of history of The Strokes or Strokes 101.

23 Webs July 12, 2011 at 2:47 pm

why cant i hear ne thing… :(

24 tyler July 12, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Oh thats why it sounds like they played it a little too fast, and it is probably the most “is this it” resembling song on the album. Very good then, carry on.

25 Mike in Queens July 12, 2011 at 4:39 pm

@AdamFS We’re pretty lucky, eh? The energy at these shows was just electric. You knew you were witnessing something important. We didn’t have the Moldy Peaches in Pittsburgh — an odd two piece band from France. But to be one of the first hundred people to hear “Meet Me in the Bathroom” is something I’ll always cherish. I saw them at Radio City about 8 months later and everything was different. I got to see them grow up a bit.

26 Ben July 12, 2011 at 8:21 pm

@Mike,

Was the that Radio City show the one with the White Stripes?? I would have killed to have seen that. I was supposed to see them on that tour but the show I was going to see was one of the few that they cancelled when Julian broke his leg.

27 Little Gray Pixel July 12, 2011 at 11:14 pm

I saw them in New Orleans a month before this. I was 21. I’m not exaggerating when I say it was life-changing.

28 Emma July 16, 2011 at 9:37 am

I would love to see them live! I just recently saw the video for their new song “Taken For A Fool,” and can’t stop watching it! Check it out: http://www.vevo.com/watch/the-strokes/taken-for-a-fool/USRV81100040

29 atd August 17, 2011 at 6:03 pm

wow. his voice was sooo much better then. now its good, but like he’s trying too hard and it’s forced but also too smooth. its changed so much!

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