The Strokes’ Splendour set proved the good old days are eternal

Photo by Kylie Keene/FasterLouder

It’s impossible to watch The Strokes and to not spend a good deal of time thinking of just how incredibly influential they’ve been. From every bounding guitar strum, to the specific tone of the guitars, down to the structure of the melody – you can hear the thousand bands that came after them.

They’ve had a more chequered reputation as a live act. As the infighting grew over the years, it spilled onto the stage and made for pretty uncomfortable viewing. Now though, The Strokes seem to have realised that the sum of their parts is greater than any one ego. Apart from a terse “what are you doing over there?” that Julian Casablancas fired at Albert Hammond Jnr., it was an harmonious affair.

These are songs to fall in love with again. From the opening burst of drums of ‘The Modern Age’, to the final clanging strum of closer ‘Last Nite’, The Strokes know what a festival crowd requires: hits, hits, a newbie, and then just more hits, delivered one after the other like rolling punches. Casablancas remains as grizzled and scowling as always, clinging to the microphone for dear life as he lay down his drawl. “So festivals hey?” He muttered, “…alright I have no idea what to say so I’ll just shut the fuck up and play music.” For him, this was about as animated as it gets. He even shared a couple of secret smiles with the band – something that never would have happened a few years ago. For the first time in a long time, The Strokes are having fun.

The Strokes
Photo credit: Kylie Keene/FasterLouder

The set was pummelling. They bounded through ‘The Modern Age’, ‘Soma’, ‘Threat Of Joy’, and ‘Welcome To Japan’ without pause – as if to make up for the long absence from Australian crowds. The riffage of ‘Reptilia’ remains a highlight, Hammond Jnr. and Nick Valensi’s guitars creating an unearthly squall of guitar sound. ‘Is This It’ was note for note perfect, the downward spiralling riff still thrilling.

The energy only rose, from the bounding ‘Someday’ and the blistering ‘Hard To Explain’. Whatever room was there at the beginning of the set vanished as it became standing room only throughout the Amphitheatre. A frenetic guitar solo punctured ‘New York City Cops’, and the band disappeared for a brief minute before emerging for ‘Last Nite’.

The Strokes probably hate each other, but they’re still one hell of a rock band.

The Strokes, Splendour In The Grass 2016 setlist

‘The Modern Age’
‘Threat Of Joy’
‘Barely Legal’
‘Welcome To Japan’
‘Automatic Stop’
‘Heart In A Cage’
‘Is This It’
‘Drag Queen’
‘Hard To Explain’
‘Trying Your Luck’
‘New York City Cops’
‘Last Nite’