The Strokes to perform at Bernie Sanders Rally
Credit: Roger Woolman

Watch some of the earliest footage of The Strokes performing live, 2000

The Strokes are set to end their musical hiatus this year with a return to the record shop shelves—a brand new album is set to arrive this year. To celebrate the release, the band have announced a run of shows.

While the setlist may be full of hits from across their 22 years on the circuit, The Strokes will borrow heavily from their early beginnings for the firepower needed to enthrall an audience.

One of the most important bands of the last 25 years, The Strokes revolutionised rock and roll for a generation and we’re taking a look back at the moment the band’s sound filled the streets of New York City with guitars once again. In the below clip, see one of The Strokes’ earliest performances at Arlene’s Grocery.

We’re not going to bore you with why The Strokes are one of the pillars of rock and roll, ask your older brother or possibly even your dad. But trust us, if a band can make you change the way you look, the way you talk, and the way you move in one 3-minute song then they’re a fucking important band. The Strokes did that almost instantly.

Formed in 1998, the group came to fruition at the turn of the millennium. A huge turning point in mentality for everyone across the globe and as the world, and Britain especially, went on the hunt for its next icon following the death of Britpop, one band in Manhattan had already been making their moves: The Strokes.

The band, led by Julian Casablancas with the ample backing of lead guitarist Nick Valensi, rhythm guitarist Albert Hammond Jr., bassist Nikolai Fraiture, and drummer Fabrizio Moretti, were about to set the world alight with their debut album Is This It.

Before this album could land, the group had begun to gain a following in their native New York with their brand of garage rock carrying the heavy crown of ‘cool’. However, being that this was all happening during the dark days of dial-up modems and no iPhones, there isn’t as much footage of the group’s early days as you’d hope.

We were thrilled then to find this gem on Youtube. It’s a gig at the infamous Arlene Grocery venue in the Lower East Side of Manhattan and was taken on April 29th 2000 just before the band began to broke or as one commenter perfectly sums up: “This must’ve been one of the last gigs they had to introduce themselves”.

The picture quality is of that of a greasy potato but the performance is still there. The early buzz and electricity The Strokes had in spades are visible to everyone, emanating from the stage in cartoon waves of ripped jeans and leather jackets. They straddle the stage with a gleeful excitement and they play like they’ve just been given their instruments.

They rattle through some songs which would later hit their debut LP as well as some tracks which would never be released. You can see the setlist below the video.

As time passed and the professionalism of the band overtook the excitement, this level of enthusiasm was sometimes lost at a Strokes gig. With a new run of dates putting The Strokes back in the spotlight, there’s a hope they may be looking back at some of these show.

That’s because if you were there at the time, this was it. And if you really do need a refresher, this video is why The Strokes would become the spark to light up a whole new scene.

So without further ado…

00:48 – Soma
03:38 – This Life (Trying Your Luck)
06:45 – New York City Cops
10:20 – In Her Prime*
12:33 – Sagganuts*
16:25 – The Rhythm Song*
20:22 – Alone Together
23:40 – A Minor 4-4*
[* = Unreleased songs]

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