The Strokes a far cry from their heyday in Lollapalooza set

Try as they might, the songs felt like a far cry from their early influence, with an apathetic delivery save for the chiseled guitar work of Albert Hammond Jr., who grabbed most of the attention.

SHARE The Strokes a far cry from their heyday in Lollapalooza set
The Strokes perform on day one of Lollapalooza in Grant Park, August 1st, 2019. | Santiago Covarrubias/For the Sun-Times

Julian Casablancas leads The Strokes in one of the last sets of the night on Day 1 of Lollapalooza.

Santiago Covarrubias/For the Sun-Times

The Strokes, 8:45 pm Thursday, T-Mobile Stage

The Strokes had an uphill battle as Thursday night’s Lolllapalooza headliners, competing against Top 40 perennials The Chainsmokers across the park.

However, Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas’ constant jabs at the situation — and Chicago — did him little favors in engaging the already sparse late-night crowd.

“What is that techno monster in the distance?” he asked on one than more occasion, hinting at the mild soundbleed coming from the opposing Bud Light Stage. That was followed by taunts about Chicago weather, its reputation as the Windy City, and how it was a second-rate Gotham as the setting of the “Batman” movies. Lest any one has forgotten, The Strokes are from New York City, as if their hometown pride and Lou Reed-by-way-of-The-Ramones shtick didn’t already make it abundantly clear.

Casablancas did best when he stuck to singing The Strokes’ arsenal of hits like “Reptilia,” “New York City Cops” and a rare Lollapalooza encore, closing out the set with “Last Nite.”

The quintet are currently in the midst of what they hail as a “global comeback,” with this festival appearance marking one in a handful of shows since their last performances in 2017 (and even more sparsely before then).

In their glory days, The Strokes were the sea change in the early 2000s, ushering in a new dawn of indie music. But try as they might tonight, the songs felt like a far cry from their early influence, with an apathetic delivery save for the chiseled guitar work of Albert Hammond Jr., who grabbed most of the attention.

Perhaps the band is still working out the kinks, but Hammond’s varied solo gig and Casabalancas’ great work with side project The Voidz might have fared better.

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