Walking into the Samsung Galaxy Life Fest was surreal for many reasons. After waiting hours in the rain, the crowd was finally welcomed into the old post office in downtown Austin where it was evident that it was THE party to be at that first night of SXSW. Not only was the makeshift venue setup incredible but there was an open bar, a charging station, a low-light photo booth, a food truck, and other kick-ass amenities… It was like getting a warm hug from Julian Casablancas himself (which, if you’ve been fortunate enough to meet him, you know that it’s the best feeling because he truly bear hugs fans).
The crowd was more relaxed (open bars will do that to 21+ crowds) but still eagerly awaiting around the lounge. Doors finally opened around 9ish and with the reveal, you just knew you were walking into something epic. The ambience was that of an intimate club, which is any concert lovers dream when they see their favorite band. The floors were lit, literally, which along with the background lights was reminiscent of their legendary MTV 2$ Bill show.
At exactly 11:10 pm the room goes dark and all you hear are the echoing screams of fans who are beyond ready to experience what was a truly magical moment. While still dark, you see shadowy figures of Albert, Nick, Fab, and Nikolai take their place. Julian walks in last but the room is still dark, suddenly you hear “is this thing on?” and then the drum beat of Someday begins, which is the perfect song choice that encapsulated the night, because it felt like an old school Strokes concert. Make no mistake about it, the night was nostalgic but definitely not stale. It was just a reminder as to why the Strokes have the loyal and devoted fan base that they have. Simply put, they fucking killed it.
From the start, everyone in the crowd could tell that we were experiencing something spellbinding and rare from the Strokes that hadn’t been done in a long time… To perform at an intimate venue in the middle of some arbitrary place in downtown Austin, what else can a fan ask for??
They had this incredible kinetic and magnetic energy, the crowd was pushing to be closer to the driving force behind the music. The air and the energy was completely electric and palpable, like you could almost touch it and you were breathing it in and it was coursing through your veins. The room was shaking with intensity, charged with the dynamics of Julian, Albert, Nick, Fab, and Nikolai. The crowd did not want the night to end. After Take It or Leave It the guys walked off stage and the crowd’s chanting of “ONE MORE SONG! ONE MORE SONG! ONE MORE SONG!” began. A few minutes passed, which let us catch our breath and wipe the dripping sweat from our faces, and we see the shadowy violet figures again. “I know you guys asked for one more song, so we decided to come out and give you three,” the crowd erupted with cheers and screams which was to Albert’s surprise because he was laughing and holding up the number two as in, he expected perhaps two songs? (Al had a red-eye to São Paulo for his solo tour.) You can watch the video and their interaction below.
My only gripe with the show is that for some messed up reason, Samsung allowed there to be two barricades, which wasn’t fair for those fans who waited HOURS in the rain to make sure to get the best view. It was a clear safety issue because the first barricade was for those obnoxious VIP’s who were on their phones texting the entire time, or standing there barely bobbing their head along to the music, or worse.. Making out with their boyfriend while there was a show. Seriously, don’t be those people, have some damn common concert courtesy.
The second barricade (which was where I initially was at) was barricaded by the flimsiest barrier I’ve ever been at, it didn’t even reach all the way across the stage. The left and right side weren’t blocked but had guards there to make sure fans didn’t go to the coveted place of the front rows. Immediately the guards had no clue what they were in for when Heart in a Cage started. While the calm VIP’s were standing ever so coolly up front, the second barrier were getting pushed back like rag dolls. I was exactly on that frail barrier getting pushed back by guards while the rowdy crowd was pushing forward because Heart in a Cage is a rager.. So with good reason, they went apeshit. Which caused the VIP’s to pay more attention to the crowd being forcibly pushed back then the amazing show in front of them.
There was one real tall guard directly in my view and as a short girl (5″3) you can sense that I wasn’t exactly thrilled. Luckily he was sympathetic and would move his head out of our phones way so my friend Pam and I can see a little better. Pam and I were getting exhausted from being pushed by both sides and when the guard in front of her and the equally nice guard in front of me saw how we were wincing, they let us up front where we originally belonged.
(Side note: The barrier was eventually broken by the crowds energy. I am not surprised by this because The Strokes shows are not for casual and super chill VIP’s. They are passionate and energetic. The pushing is something that happens at every concert, it’s expected but not having a secure barrier is reckless. Also, it was evident that the band saw what was happening but it was out of their control so my gripe isn’t with them because their only job was to put on a kick-ass show.. Which they did.
I am writing about this to bring light to this unsafe concert experience because it’s an easily fixable issue and to describe a lot of the fans experience about the show. I was fortunate enough to have a nice security guard in front of me, other fans weren’t so lucky.)
The whole night was worth the queuing in the rain, the pushing, the crowd… Everything. I would maybe tweak a few things but definitely not change it because it was worth it all and it was everything I had been secretly hoping would happen but never expected from the Strokes.
Heart in a Cage
Hard to Explain
New York City Cops
Take It or Leave It
Is This It
What Ever Happened?
The Modern Age