Words by Audra Tracy

Remember that rocker kid you went to high school with, and how his mere presence invoked impure thoughts upon your young, impressionable hormones? You know, the one who stole your virginity (or your girlfriend)? Well that kid is kinda like The Strokes. Except there’s five of them, and they came to party.

So for Night One of the 2010 Austin City Limits Music Festival, The Strokes brought their New York City swagger to the sweet Southwest. Zilker Park was packed tight as hardcore fans lined up hours before the 8PM set-time to get as close to the action as possible for the band’s third U.S. performance since 2006.

With co-headliner Phish playing just out of earshot, The Strokes snagged the spotlight when they opened with ‘Is This It’, the title track off their near-perfect 2001 debut. ‘Hard to Explain’ followed, instantly morphing the crowd of civilized human beings into a raging storm of rogue crowd surfers, shrieking females, and the blinding flashes of a thousand camera phones.

Though in the process of recording an album for 2011 release (to follow up 2006’s First Impressions of Earth), The Strokes seem to be keeping their newest material under wraps for now. Nobody seemed to care, because instead the band distracted the eager audience with a barrage of songs like ‘Juicebox’, ‘Reptilia’, and ‘New York City Cops’.

The Strokes are undoubtedly hard-hitting live, but what makes them so rock n roll is their devil-may-care stage presence. Lead singer Julian Casablancas wore his Ray Bans at night as he spit one-liners like ‘Who’s messing with Texas?’, while Albert Hammond Jr. rocked a post-Labor Day white suit just like an OG.

Before deciding to push past the ‘fake encore’, Casablancas & Co. randomly jammed on a few bars of the 80’s cartoon theme Thundercats, complete with meowing. ‘Between Love and Hate’, off 2003’s Room on Fire slipped in at the end, and The Strokes closed out the set a bit shy of 9:30 with the appropriate ‘Take it or Leave It’.

Packing that much raw power into 90 minutes, you could say The Strokes are like the Thundercats of rock n roll: America’s superheroes.

Setlist: The Strokes @ ACL 2010:

Is This It
Hard to Explain
You Only Live Once
Under Control
Trying Your Luck
Evening Sun
Last Nite
New York City Cops
Vision of Division
Between Love & Hate
Take It or Leave It


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