Julian Casablancas + The Voidz, Team Spirit House of Blues October 31, 2014
Julian Casablancas is arguably one of the biggest rock stars of his generation. Though he's best known as the lead singer of the Strokes, there's something more to him that often gets glossed over and unappreciated. But everything he is seemed to resonate the loudest when he performed at House of Blues on Halloween night with his newest band, the Voidz.
Doors and curtains rolled a little over an hour later than fans were expecting, likely stemming from the band's appearance at Cactus Records earlier in the day. Even so, it gave it that familiar rock and roll feeling, when you're not entirely sure what to expect.
It was the first time in recent memory that Casablancas was on a non-festival stage, backed by a new band with new music. And for the first time, it felt like he was taking a step away from the Julian Casablancas we've come to know.
After an eclectic blend of world music, the Voidz took the stage around 10:30 p.m. just as fans seemed to get restless, shouting for the band to appear. Of course, it all became background noise once Casablancas followed his band onstage, strolling out in his signature jean vest over a retro Astros baseball jersey.
As the group launched into "Dare I Care," Casablancas began strolling around the stage before jumping head-first into "M.utually A.ssured D.estruction," a track from their debut album Tyranny, which was dripping with prog-rock and metal influence.
"How are you guys doing up there on the balcony?" Casablancas asked with his signature cheeky grin. The joke, of course, was that the show was standing room only.
But aside from amusing himself, it was crazy to realize how small this show was, especially considering the fact that Casablancas' only real touring experience as of late means hitting up different international music festivals to headline. That said, House of Blues is no small room, and he somehow managed to turn the show into one of the most intimate I've ever been to there.
It's easy to attribute this to the laid-back, familiar demeanor in which Casablancas carries himself, but it still doesn't hurt that the five men known as the Voidz have got the talent and guts to take the concept they've presented and execute it without a hitch.
Drummer Alex Carapetis brought a familiar face to the band from his time spent working with Nine Inch Nails, as well as Casablancas while touring his debut solo album, Phrazes for the Young. Then there's Jeramy Gritter, former Whitestarr guitarist, whose big hair and personality make his live performance that much more enthralling.
After an 11-minute performance of their track "Human Sadness," they treated the crowd to a cover of The Misfits' "Halloween."
It wasn't until later, however, that Casablancas made reference to the fact that it was Halloween, stating that the band almost dressed as the Strokes but thought better of it. Instead, the group covered yet another song -- this time, the Strokes' own "Ize of the World."
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What is remarkably different about the Voidz when compared to the Strokes, however, is how loose the newer band all feels. Sure, the Strokes made a name for themselves with a playful garage-rock approach, but as it got more and more polished over the years it lost some of the appeal of their debut album, Is This It? But because the construction and songwriting on Tyranny is so fluid, Casablancas' new group's sound takes unexpected turns without ever feeling forced.
Sure, some of the time changes are a little unexpected, but the music always seems to bounce back within seconds, showing that there was a cause for the effect. And while Casablancas has become known for his ability to croon, it's nice to hear him revert back to vocals that are a little fuzzy and more distorted than recent memory would recall.
But as rock and roll as the night may have felt, nothing was more charming than when Casablancas emerged onstage alone for the encore and quietly charmed the audience with "I'll Try Anything Once," the original recording for First Impressions of Earth's "You Only Live Once."
He really was made to croon.
Opening Act: Team Spirit, the pop-punk child of Passion Pit's Ayad Al Adhamy opened up; depending on who you ask, they might be an easier pill to swallow than Al Adhamy's other venture. That said, I had a blast dancing along, but would like to check them out in a smaller venue to experience everything they have to offer in closer proximity.
The Crowd: A lot of teenagers, a lot of twentysomethings, and a handful of older fans. And, unfortunately, much of the crowd seemed to be lacking in manners. Sure, there were some kids that didn't seem brushed up on concert etiquette (a couple next to me was glued to Facebook throughout the opening act), but what was most disturbing were the amounts of pushy people going back and forth to the bar. Friendly reminder: it's not okay to shove someone out of your way, and a simple "Excuse Me" goes a long way.
(Halloween Costumes) Seen in the Crowd: Though my +1 went as The Hamburglar, I really enjoyed seeing a couple dressed as Grease's Sandy and Danny circa "You're The One That I Want," and a man dressed as Michael Myers who stayed in character and stood at the back of the room without moving an inch during the whole show.
Dare I Care M.utually A.ssured D.estruction Human Sadness Where No Eagles Fly Halloween (Misfits Cover) Business Dog Xerox River of Brakelights Crunch Punch Ize Of The World Johan XXX
ENCORE I'll Try Anything Once Father Elec
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