Last Night: Julian Casablancas at the House of Blues

Julian Casablancas
House of Blues
April 13, 2010

Better than: I thought it was going to be!

"Seriously! I love Dallas, Texas! Yes!" an excited Julian Casablancas shouted out to the crowd at the House of Blues last night.

Then, next thing you know, The Strokes frontman, on tour in support of his recent solo release, Phrazes for the Young, dove straight into a rendition of "I Wish It Was Christmas Today."

In April? Sure. Didn't matter. Julian Casablancas was there to deliver the goods. And, while it was hardly the season, it may as well have been Christmas for all The Strokes fans in the room last night.

And, for a Tuesday night, the House of Blues was fairly busy. Not quite wall-to-wall, sold-out, jam-packed busy, no. But a sizable crowd definitely showed up for Julian Casablancas' debut solo show in the region. And, even before the show started, fans were pushed up against the stage, waiting anxiously for it to begin.

Then, finally, after a lengthy set up, the curtains parted, revealing Julian Casablancas, sporting bright red pants, a black-and-white stripped tee and studded leather jacket. Full-on rock wear? Uh-huh. There was even a feather in his hair. His stage, meanwhile, was purple and smoky, and behind Casablancas stood a six-person backing band.

And for the first song of the night--a new one, apparently--Casablancas stood fixed behind to his micstand, slightly hunched over, hands glued to the mic. When that song ended and Casablancas thanked his fans for showing, the room exploded. It was the perfect segue into the second song of the night, "Ludlow St," which was then followed by "River of Brakelights." And though Casablancas pretty much remained glued to the mic for these cuts as well, the crowd kept eating it up, bouncing around, and even singing along.

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For good reason, too: His Phrazes for the Young songs were translating quite well from the album to the stage. So, too, were some other cuts. Later in the night, Casablancas and his very talented, multi-instrumentalist-filled backing band played "Hard to Explain" off The Strokes' 2001 debut, Is This It. The crowd, unsurprisingly, went absolutely wild in response.

Again, though, their reaction was justified: The song sounded great--possibly better than it had a few years ago.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias: I used to be a pretty big fan of The Strokes, and I still find myself revisiting Is This It and Room on Fire from time to time. I am not, however, a huge fan of Phrazes For The Young, or Julian Casablancas' solo project in general. But I can honestly say that last night's show was lively, and very entertaining. 

Random note: Is it just me, or did Julian Casablancas look eerily similar to The Mighty Boosh's Noel Fielding on stage last night? Wishful thinking I guess...

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