Frontman of The Strokes and Silver Lake resident newbie Julian Casablancas wrapped up his four-show residency at the Downtown Palace Theater Friday night with a musical and visual spectacle that could rival Disneyland’s electrical light parade.
For loyal Strokes fans, Casablancas’ solo project Phrazes for the Young has been a long time coming—the garage rock revivalists haven’t put a record out since 2006, which slipped off the charts much quicker than their previous album Room on Fire in 2003, let alone their debut record. Long story short, Strokes followers are stoked that he’s back, as they should be.
“11th Dimension,” the first single off Casablancas’ solo EP is reminiscent of why we fell in love with “Last Nite” and “Take It or Leave It”—the ultra-catchy beats, a feel-good sounding chorus, a ’70s retro vibe, and of course, Casablancas’ classically gritty (and sometimes indecipherable) voice. But wait, there’s more: The leather jacketed lanky and shaggy crooner adds a modern tinge to his EP with a heavy use of electronic sounds and keyboards that result in a synth-pop success.
Yet, all this wouldn’t have been translated without the help of an over-the-top production composed of costume changes, sliding backdrops, and projections of digital control boards and kaleidoscope prisms. At one point, Casablancas emerged from the stage in an all white suit strung with white lights. Though Casablancas looked and sounded a bit tired throughout his 11-song set (even needing an intermission), awe-inspired concertgoers could’ve cared less.
He pumped out several tracks off the record including “River of Breaklights” and “4 Chords of the Apocalypse”. The Downtown Palace Theater’s Cirque du Soleil feel added a nice touch, despite that Casablancas’ sound proved too much at times, losing itself in its ancient halls.
But all was redeemed when Casablancas closed the final show of his residency with an electro-pop version of Randy Newman’s “I Love L.A.”, paying homage to his newfound home away from home. He even told the NY Times in an interview “It’s fun; I won’t lie. L.A.’s kind of, like, seven really cool towns."
Take that, NYC. -Sara Tan (Photos by Sara Zagha)