Published Nov 24, 2009Back when Julian Casablancas hit it big with the Strokes in 2001, indie kids were widely mocked for being "too cool to dance," preferring to stare sullenly at their shoes with their hands in their pockets. Much has changed in eight years: Casablancas - king hipster himself - has converted to booty-shaking electro pop and, with it, shed the disaffected persona of old.
During his set at Vancouver's Commodore Ballroom, the singer was practically giddy, smiling widely and giving out high-fives as he praised the audience for being "truly the best crowd we've ever played to." And while he never exactly busted a move, he wasn't afraid to show off the odd dance move either; he performed endearingly awkward twirls during "Ludlow St." and bobbed appreciatively to the Phrazes for the Young single "11th Dimension."
Casablancas was joined by a six-piece backing band, who allowed their front-man to take the spotlight to himself while they lurked discreetly in the background. Their arrangements rarely strayed from the album versions, even replicating the disjoined breakdowns of "River of Breaklights" and the electronic percussion of "Glass."
Still, as much fun as it was to see Casablancas branching out from his garage pop roots, the set's best moment was the distinctly Strokes-like "Out of the Blue," a heart-racing rocker propelled by fuzzy guitar chords and duel drumming. Mumbling lyrics about "going to hell in a leather jacket," he almost seemed like the enigmatic brat who once took the world by storm.
The show's only real drawback was its length: Casablancas was on stage for less than an hour and played just ten songs, but such is problem for an artist with only one album, and especially when it's only eight tracks long. Still, the set proved that the singer is easily capable of cutting it on his own.