Between Love & Hate

my really Emo and Gross ode to The Strokes

Your phone buzzes incessantly, piling up messages from friends, “HOLY SHIT”, “THEY’RE BACK” and other exclamations of eagerness. You’re filled with a strange mix of excitement and panic. The immediacy and urgency have you bursting at the seams. You blast your radio, you wait. Open up a tab, head for the Fader or Spin, hope it’ll pop up on your newsfeed or dashboard. The list goes on. This is definitely applicable to any band or artist you strongly connect with, but there’s something untouchable when it comes to them.

Very little is comparable to being a Strokes fan. Lately when they’ve released new material it’s not super expected. Thanks to their most recent albums Angles and Comedown Machine, expectations for an Is This It regurgitation that so many oddly desire have been crushed. We no longer accurately predict what will come out of our speakers once we hit play; no calculation, no foreseeing. We hear rumors, even band members will spill info here and there. We might think we’re prepared but we end up far from it, both objectively and emotionally.

Getting into my friend’s car the other morning, listening to XMU and waiting for Julian Casablancas’ guest spot, it felt like a new era. It wasn’t even just about hearing the new tune ‘Oblivius’. I mean, it partially was because I actually really enjoy it, but it was something larger than just that singular song. One new song might mean two new songs, which might mean three new songs, so on and so forth. It gives us hope for more music, it gives us something to look forward to and something to hold onto. And hearing tracks Julian specifically picked to share? That was something just so incredibly special. It was like the thrill of digging through a chest in your grandparents attic, filled with memories and items they held so dear. I felt a warmth I haven’t since seeing The Strokes live almost exactly two years previous.

No doubt that music helps bring people together. I’m personally thankful to countless musicians for creating friendships with people all over the world, but there’s a camaraderie with Strokes fans that I’ve never experienced with any other fanbase. Attending one of their gigs is something I’ve been privileged to experience more than once, and I wouldn’t take any of it back for the world.

Your feet aren’t touching the floor because you’re being squished so tightly against others. You’re drenched in sweat that mostly is not yours, and you’ll reek by the end of the night. It sounds disgusting and it is, but you honestly couldn’t give a shit, because guess what? You’re fucking seeing The Strokes. Everyone is screaming their hearts out. There isn’t really a better atmosphere (if we’re being honest, a One Direction concert hits pretty close to this in terms of energy. Yes, I did just compare a Strokes gig to a concert of the boyband you love to hate, just to hate. Don’t knock it til you try it). But really, I’ve never been in a more enthusiastic crowd. People are eager to push to the front, which is usually annoying, but you literally just do not care. You go with it, you vibe off of that electricity. You turn to the person to your left whom you’ve never met before, to your best friends, or your significant other. And guess what? You’re all just beaming. Seeing this band live creates a sense of euphoria that just absolutely glistens.

On another hand, Strokes shit-talk never ends; we’re not always so grateful. Even if you’re not an ardent fan, the ever-so-popular query of “Will they ever fucking properly tour again?” has probably slipped out of your mouth once or twice. It’s not fair to have such expectations, but of course the questions still continue (and I admit, I’ve been guilty of it as well). But then when they pop up, you’re absolutely enamored. Even if not with the music itself, you’re still strongly thankful they’ve released something new. That they’ve come together, dusted off their instruments, and lifted the curtains.

As Strokes fans, there will never be a time where our feelings settle. This band has always, and will always fill our hearts in a way that no other band can match so precisely.

The Strokes captured from inside the crowd on 35mm at Port Chester’s Capitol Theater, May 2014, by Cecilia Majzoub

stream the new Strokes EP on Spotify
listen to Julian’s XMU Culture Void episode 1