The Strokes @ Madison Square Garden (April 1st, 2011)

By Will Oliver, April 2nd 2011 — with 20 comments Concert Reviews

I’ve been waiting a long, long, time to see The Strokes. They’ve always been that one band that I’ve never gotten to see. Deep down, I feared that they would break up before I had the chance to see them. Thankfully that never happened. They made their hometown return in epic fashion last night at New York’s most famous area: Madison Square Garden.

The Strokes are the essential Madison Square Garden band. They’re a rock band with huge hits, and this is their home. It’s a match made in heaven. Although I would have loved to see them at a smaller venue (obviously), there is no denying that MSG fits the glove, just right.

Devendra Banhart was the opener, and his set was hit and miss for me. Immediately after his set, someone quickly took the stage, but it was too early to be The Strokes. Low and behold, and the legendary Elvis Costello walks out on stage. He said “April Fools” before kicking into a short, but very sweet set. Talk about a massive surprise.

Elvis Costello:

The moment finally came for The Strokes to arrive, and boy, was it something. They opened with “Is This It”, possibly the only proper way to say hello to NYC again. We had no time to catch our breath. They then dove straight into “Reptilia”, “Under Cover Of Darkness”, “Hard To Explain”, and “Last Night”. What a run that was. The Strokes really bring their a-game live. They transform their sound to a huge sonic boom of blaring guitars that are just demanding you to be in absolute awe. Julian’s voice shines live, sounding free and warm in a live setting. People complain about The Strokes being static during live performances, but there was no sign of that tonight. Julian sang with the crowd in the pit during the entirety of “Juicebox”, and he jumped into the side seats during the encore performance of “I Can’t Win”.

Elvis Costello came out to sing “Taken For A Fool” with the band, putting the whole night into perspective. This was a magical moment among magical moments. The setlist was absolutely perfect, I couldn’t ask for anything other than *possibly” 12:51. Other than that, they played the best of their best. The new songs sounded great, and the old songs sounded brand new again. It was like I was hearing all the songs for the first time again. Now that’s the way a concert should make you feel.

Anyone who hates on The Strokes is just trying to hard. These guys are one of the greatest rock bands of our generation. They brought practically all of New York city together 10 years ago, and they did it once again, last night. This is a performance that you will hear your friends talking about for years. If you were there, you know what I mean. If you weren’t there, then…sorry.

Below, check out a video I took of Elvis singing on “Taken For A Fool”, along with a few photos and the setlist:

Here’s another video:


Is This It
Under Cover of Darkness
Hard to Explain
Last Nite
Life Is Simple In The Moonlight
You’re So Right
Under Control
You Only Live Once
New York City Cops
Whatever Happened
Taken For A Fool (Feat. Elvis Costello)

Ask Me Anything
Modern Age
I Can’t Win
Take It or Leave It

  • Naft Gerft

    as a die hard strokes fan, last night’s setlist was fantastic and the strokes definitely brought it. however, a one and a half hour set?!? at msg?! in your hometown?! some of us were left a little unfulfilled despite having an amazing time.

    the night was on the verge of epic and then, like when cops raid a fun party, it just ended out of nowhere.

    it’s time the strokes started blowing people away with long, dedicated sets. not leaving them with blue balls.

    all said and done, it obviously rocked and rolled the entire time they played. i just think we all had at least another half hour in us for this caliber of a show.

  • drummazzl

    i just listed the set into my player. must have been an awesome show, of course my experience can’t be compared to a real life show… (please come to germany)





  • Ken

    first time seeing the strokes huh? they haven’t played a gig in five years time. i’m guessing you were probably 10 years old when their debut came out in 2001. i bet you didn’t buy the album when first released. not many 10 year olds listening to indie rock in 2001. you probably picked up the album most likely in 2004 or 2005 and got into the strokes in retrospect. then they kinda broke up/took time off. trust me this is a band in name only. they do not like each other. i wouldn’t be surprised if they never made another album. nothing will touch their 2000-2002 output. classic times, classic tunes, classic gigs.

    “These guys are one of the greatest rock bands of our generation. They brought practically all of New York city together 10 years ago, and they did it once again, last night.”

    – I wouldn’t say one of the great rock bands of our generation with their resume. Debut is epic. sophomore album was above average. third album was extremely bloated and the sound of a band falling apart. very poor although the lead off track of one of their best ever. their 4th album is decent at best. hardly great.

    – did they bring all the 10 year olds together in 2001 as well? gimme a break. you weren’t there 10 years ago. you got into the band in 2005. when they were past their prime.

    anyways…keep up the blog. it’s actually a good daily read. no joke. keep it up.

  • Hanan Erikat

    i’M SO glad you got to see them =)

  • bob sacamano


  • Jim Conway

    i think ken’s point was the writer of the review talks as if he was part of the scene in 2001 when he was more likely 10 or 11 years old. looks like he got into the band 2-3 albums into their simply ok career. Strokes at the garden? they aren’t pearl jam. now that is a band you see in arena. strokes at tiny clubs in 2000-2001. now that was epic. a band like that was built for a small room. they sould amazing in that setting. i do agree with ken though. every album since their debut has been a struggle filled with band members fighting with each other. huge break between albums 2 and 3 and an ever longer break between albums 3 and 4. You can ready about all the fighitng and lack of contact by members between tours and recorind sessions. a band in name only? well said ken.

  • Bill

    Ken is a pretentious prick who’s behaving as though the author in any way misrepresented himself. “Being there,” for 2001-2002 is no great shakes. NOBODY IN THIS CITY NOR ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH regards that period as some great, now forever gone era of music. Nothing the author says in this entry warranted some shitty know-it-all douchebag like Ken coming along and being condescending piece of shit. I guarantee you that “Ken” is neither cool nor “wired in” in any way. Fuck Ken.

  • Bill

    Also, Ken, you remarkable, pretentious piece of shit, douchebag, since when were the fucking Stokes “indie rock.” I realize that Wikipedia may describe “indie rock” as a genre, but it’s not. It simply means rock music released on independent labels. The Strokes’ first e.p. MIGHT, arguably, qualify, but all of their albums have been released on major labels. Their FIRST album has sold over three million copies, you fucking moron. I believe it even went gold at the time of release. It’s perfectly conceivable that a ten year old might have listened to them, considering they were a legitimately popular band. You want to believe that 10 years ago you were much, much hipper than you actually were for listening to a relatively mainstream band. Guess what, Ken, you weren’t.

  • Ralph

    Ouch. Sounds like bill was also 10 years old when the strokes hit and is a little sensitive at the moment. indie rock, rock, alternative, call it whatever but i think ken might be right. 10 year olds don’t listen to those kinds of records/songs. they listen to much much worse. i wonder if the author was really that young and when he became a strokes fan. i’m willing to bet it wasn’t during the years of 2001-2003. let’s hear it!!!!

  • Will

    Ken, you are right. I was 11 when the album came out, and no I didn’t buy it. Your right many kids don’t listen indie rock when their that young. I was no different, but you see, I don’t see any part of my review where I claim to have been a fan since the (literal) beginning.

    I was familiar with Last Night and other songs that I heard through media, and friends, but I wasn’t a huge fan until a few years later. That’s right. I wasn’t speaking for myself when I said that they brought NYC together. I never said I was there. Rather, I am aware of how applauded their early stuff was at the time. It seemed to practically bring NYC together. You can disagree with that all you want, that’s just my opinion, but I wasn’t trying to claim anything that wasn’t true.

    Even so, what if I did like the band that early? I know friends who were into them very early into the start. Even if it’s unlikely, I don’t think it’s fair to make assumptions.

    To all of you who left comments, thanks. The point of this review was to acknowledge that it was a great show, and that the great feeling I had leaving the show, must have been what it was like when they were at the top of their game. That’s all. No claim that I was there from the beginning because….I wasn’t.

  • Mira

    why can’t will say that they’re one of the greatest in HIS opinion? Also I saw them at the bowery ballroom and Let me say that they rocked MSG, even more so than bowery.

  • Blake

    It’s Will’s blog. Feel free to assume it’s his opinion.

    Jesus Christ

  • Brandon

    Arcade fire was better at the garden. Nice to see them show up at the LCD soundsystem gig.

  • chris

    People are a little angry….

  • David

    To those who are saying The Strokes are not a great band: Bullshit. Yes, their output has been spotty for some time now. But what they did with just one album was iconic, and there were plenty of highs after that. Ken sounds like someone who wishes that they would make the same kind of album repeatedly, like The Ramones or something. But bands can’t last that way in the modern age. They need to innovate, and that’s something The Strokes have done. First Impressions Of earth, despite the lackluster quality of SOME of the songs, was an innovative album in sound and vision. It wasn’t as bad as it’s pegged to be. And they spawned more imitators with their first album than any band in recent existence, so yeah, it is fair to say that they are one of the greatest rock bands of our generation. 20 songs is a good setlist length too; better than the million indie bands today headlining tours on one album. Hop off their dicks already!

  • KaRen

    Like Ken’s post or not, forget him blasting will over 2001, but every strokes album has gotten worse and worse. Even the stroke members say this if their own last three album arc. So much fighting. So much time off. Ditched producers. Ditched recording sessions. Ditched live album. Julian’s Quates over the last four years have been telling. Bottom line they have one brilliant album, one above average follow up, a dud of a third album and a decent 4th album is very so so output over 12 years of a bands history. Hammond’s solo lp’s have been much better received bY both fans and critics. Just l

  • KaRen

    Just look at the posts in this comment section . All very mixed on their career output after their debut.

  • j m

    i was there, and i must say they were fantastic. i’ve always loved the strokes. my father introduced them to me and my brother when we were younger and of course, we fell in love. my brother and i went out there on our own last friday and we had loads of fun. i can’t even explain how great that concert was. i’m going to remember this for the rest of my life, and i will definitely be seeing them the next change i get.
    elvis was a huge plus in the already unbelievably great strokes. elvis is a legand, and one of my friends was telling me how he was awful and i couldn’t believe it. he’s great. perfect combonation.
    anyway, telling the story does not fufill how truely amazing it was.
    kids these days do not appreciate good music now a days like the strokes and elvis costello. i hope they stay together, great show.

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