I attended Pearl Jam 20 Festival on Sunday, Sept. 4 not to see Pearl Jam, but to see Queens of the Stone Age for the first time and The Strokes for the second.
As I move further away from the gig, I’ve come to realize what I saw was about as unique of a Strokes show as one will ever see. First, Julian played with Pearl Jam (he sang with Eddie Vedder on Red Mosquito) and Queens of the Stone Age (Sick, Sick, Sick). Also, Eddie Vedder singing Juicebox was the highlight of The Strokes’ set and it’s hard not to smile when thinking about Josh Homme, one of my favorite frontmen, playing one of my favorite songs with my favorite band.
I think Julian and Nick feel the same way, as you can see in the video.
But it’s about more than just the covers.
Throughout the weekend, The Strokes were surrounded by musicians they genuinely admire and respect. I haven’t watched videos of Sunday’s show, but each member of the band seemed genuinely happy and, for them, it was a fantasy camp of sorts because the festival – Vedder, specifically – emphasized collaboration.
After Homme finished playing New York City Cops, Nick and Julian were unequivocally happy on stage, smiling and appreciating the moment. After Vedder played with The Strokes on Saturday, Albert took to Twitter to express just how neat that moment was for him. After Julian sang with Pearl Jam and QotSA Sunday, he tried to shake the hands of each of the bands’ members in order to show his appreciation for the opportunity to sing with two groups he has so much respect for.
Although the lawn section at Alpine Valley is extremely far away from the stage, I was able to watch three of The Strokes – Nick, Nikolai and Fab — watch Pearl Jam’s set.
Right before Pearl Jam took the stage, Nikolai and Fab were ushered into the sound engineers’ area (I’m sure there’s an official name to that place that I can’t think of). Nick joined them a little later. While Pearl Jam played, The Strokes were typically how one might expect: still and attentive.
But there were a few songs in the set – Pearl Jam’s bigger hits from the band’s first couple records – that made Nikolai bob his head (which is like jumping up and down for a normal person) and Fab become very demonstrative. And then Julian, in his glow-in-the-dark Nikes, walked on to the stage and was introduced by Vedder, who said he has the same initials as Jesus Christ.
Look, I don’t have access to The Strokes and I don’t want to put thought bubbles over their heads, but to play Juicebox with Vedder and then see Julian, one of their best friends for over a decade, have the opportunity to sing with a group the five Strokes collectively idolized growing up had to be, for them, one of the most unique experiences they’ve had.
I mean, just watch this video. When are The Strokes ever going to experience something like this again?
As time progresses, my favorite moments from the festival include…
- Hearing The Strokes play 12 of my favorite songs, which is something that will never get old.
- The buildup to Albert playing his solo in Take It Or Leave It.
- First spotting Julian on the side stage for Queens of the Stone Age. Even from the lawn, Julian’s quite easy to spot with sunglasses, bright yellow shoes and a hot piece of a wife (I mean that endearingly).
- Watching Julian hesitantly walk out to sing with QotSA and Pearl Jam.
- “I like to comb his hair.”
- Nick, who I can’t recall ever smiling on stage, grinning with Homme after NYC Cops ended.
- The Albert lookalike I took a picture with who didn’t even know who Albert is.
- This one girl (lady, actually) who took her pants off for some reason around 4 p.m. It was 70 degrees outside.
There are a bunch of photos and a few videos of The Strokes’ sets at PJ 20. If you’re interested, check out Twitter.com/shesfixing.