...Not the kind of wheel you fall asleep at...

Sweat-Coated Ecstasy

So two truths remain:

1. I would shag any single one of the Strokes, no questions asked.

2. The Strokes put on the best concerts I've seen, bar none.

As you all now know, given last Thursday's blog, I went to see the Strokes perform at the Agora this past Friday. I left with sweat rolling down my neck, my hair plastered to my face and sticky with salt, my shirt *completely* soaked through (like I'd just partaken in a wet t-shirt contest), and both my pants and underwear stone cold icy from the fact that they felt like I'd just dunked them in a bathtub full of water. 'Tis a sign of a good concert when you can say that it "made you totally wet" and actually HAVE it be true.

The opening band was a Dr. Frog (who apparently either doesn't *have* a website or has one that is difficult to track down amidst 8 billion biology-nerd pages), a kind of funky-fun Grateful-Dead-esque-inspired bouncy-cute band. Despite the fact that they had a seemingly heavy Phish/Dead-feel going for them, they were a surprisingly lot of fun to watch bounce around the stage--the lead singer had quite a howler for a voice, and they did some bizarre songs that sounded like they were being sung by monkeys in parts. Good sign to have a half-way decent opening band.

And then the wait. The long wait. The excruciatingly long painful "good-god-won't-it-start-already" wait. I almost wept in anticipation. As we stood there and they kept coming and recoming and recoming out to do sound-check, much to the bemoaning of the crowd, we heard a bunch of boys that had managed to creep up behind us finalizing their plans to shove forward all the way up to the stage when the lights went down, so Maura and I gave each other silent looks in preparation. Then finally, after much whining, after much jittering around on anticipatory feet, after the whole crowd began chanting their names, they burst onto the stage and began the show with "Heart in a Cage."

And on the 8th day, God made The Strokes.

And it was good.

Despite the fact that about 15 billion people lurched forwards as the band graced the stage, slamming us into the other 15 billion people in front of us and almost knocking us over, the first song was full of a beautiful crazed energy. And the crowd-surge *did* manage to shove us up into the 4th row, with the most exquisitely unimpeded view that I've ever had at a concert. I could almost see the pores on Julian Casablancas's f-ing hot face.

Now I do have to admit, the first four or five songs or so were a bit of a blur to me, seeing as a) the crowd went so insane upon them appearing that it was hard to stay focused on the music amidst the crazed blur of folks body-slamming and lurching and dancing and throwing themselves into one another like crazed animals, and b) on top of it, we had a singular fucked-up man behind us (who looked like he had fallen out of some horrible joke of a ska-band) who was *so* extremely tanked that he could barely stay upright as he slammed repeatedly into us, grabbed my boob once, and kept resting his forehead on the back of people's shoulders as he paused for a moment or two amidst his insanity. When you're being jolted forwards every two seconds and slamming into the backs of the people in front of you, when you're trying not to get your eyeglasses ground into your relatively fragile eyeballs by the spindly whipping elbows of the skinny chicks nearby, when you're trying to fend off the crazy drunk-man behind, and when you're trying to stay upright so as to not die some horrible trampled-death at a Strokes concert, it's hard to focus on the music.

But thankfully, the crowd managed to crowd-surf the drunk-guy to the front and get him out. He returned a short bit later, but the crowd slowly pushed him off to the side, like some teenage-boy working the nasty-ass whiteheaded pus out of a pimple. And then he was gone.

The madness of pushing and moshing and craziness continued for a while (mainly until I elbowed the chick behind me as hard as I could in the boob and she finally stopped shoving me with two hands in the center of my back every five seconds), but then it quickly and impressively gelled into this huge sweaty surging beating pulse of a heart that was the crowd moving in entranced rhythm to the beat of a ton of fantastically-performed Strokes songs.

And again, it was good.

I'd seen the Strokes once before, at The Aragon in Chicago, almost 4 years ago at this point (in Oct. of 2002), and I had initially been leery of getting tickets to see them again in Cleveland because the Chicago concert had been so magically perfect that I was afraid to ruin my image of them by having the second show lack the energy and excitement and fun of the first. But beat my ass with a Julian Casablancas, because I was wrong wrong wrong.

They wailed out a ton of my favorites songs, the highlights being "You Only Live Once," "Juicebox" (which unfortunately was one of the ones I was distracted throughout), "Take It or Leave It," "Someday," and a kick-ass duet of "Ask Me Anything" (with just Nick Valensi on some weird synthesizer-esque instrument and Julian Casablancas crooning his heart out in what was a weirdly heartbreaking song live). The only song that was sadly absent was "Razorblade."

Despite all my joking about wanting to nail every one of those boys, there *is* actually a reason for this--they are an incredibly sexy and inspiring band and give an incredibly sexy and inspiring performance that makes you wanna rub up against people on crowded subway cars, makeout with any and all of your friends on a pool table, lust after the cute dark-haired fellow who gives you a kiss on your hand in parting, and jam your tongue down anyone's throat who will have it. They are powerful. They are sexy. Their music is fucking amazing. And their shows are virtually seamless, and that's what makes them so goddamn impressive. Not only are they perfectly-on (Julian Casablancas has an amazing voice live, and the rest of the band is perfect in their accompaniment), but everything about the performance is perfectly in-sync with them as well. They have spectacular lighting for *every single goddamn song* and they stir the crowd into such a foaming mass of gyrating orgiastic craziness, that it's hard not to leave the show feeling totally in awe of (and wanting to fuck the brains out of) every single one of them. I mean, the last 20 minutes of the show were like this weird period of transcendence, where everyone was so blissfully tired out that we could barely move and yet were still throbbing to the beats of all our favorite songs as though we were no longer the ones moving our own bodies but the music was doing it for us. I bounced and lurched and danced around until I literally had a cramp in my side and had to take pause to let it relax. But even then, I felt like I was at the will of a bunch of skilled hypnotists and that my body was under their every command. And despite the fact that I am nearing the big 3-0, being at this concert made me laugh in the face of aging, because goddamn if me and little Ms. Mo weren't able to hold our own amidst the flailing bodies, the crowd-surfers, the insane drunkards, and the spindly-elbowed prepubescents and bounce and lurch and dance our *own* way through every crazed minute of the whole goddamn show.

They are hypnotists. Beautiful hypnotists, let me tell you.

The Strokes are no doubt my favorite band live--they have an energy that I've not yet felt in another concert, and to impress me not just once but *twice* without leaving me with an ounce of disappointment--that's fucking impressive.

Alas, they *did* do an encore this time, but I will forgive them.

And alas, I did not get to shag a one of them.

But there is always next time. And there *will* be a next time. Oh yes.



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