The Strokes and Late Night Television

Watching bands perform on late night television is a special thing. Days before they appear, you mark both your digital and physical calendar. Then you anticipate the new  song that they going to perform off their latest album – hoping that it’s not going to be that one, even though you have a sick feeling that it will be. You could care less about half the show (unless its Coco), but when one of your favorite band plays, its like the watching a hail mary.

 

Watching bands perform on late night television is a special thing. Days before they appear, you mark both your digital and physical calendar. Then you anticipate the new  song that they going to perform off their latest album – hoping that it’s not going to be that one, even though you have a sick feeling that it will be. You could care ltHss about half the show (unless its Coco), but when one of your favorite band plays, its like the watching a hail mary.

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The Strokes performing “Under Control” on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, in 2003.

The Strokes were and are still, one of the most exciting bands to see live – even with Julian Casablanca’s still being frontman, after he transformed himself to look like a parrot. The band first appeared live on television, on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, in 2001, performing the “Reptilia” on Is This It, “The Modern Age.” Julian showed up looking shy, moving very little, but there was strong focus in his aggressive raspy vocals – being one of the best performances he ever did. Rhythm guitarist, Nick Valensi, showed up looking like a Ric Ocasek rugrat all grown up, with his long sleeve shirt under his short sleeve; drummer, Fab Morretti, was wearing the same red shirt he wore all during 2001, Nikolai Fraiture wearing the same outfit he did in the “Last Nite” music video; and guitarist, Albert Hammond Jr., looking like a chill substitute teacher. This was the performance declaring rock and roll is here to stay.

In 2003, for an entire month, they performed every Tuesday on Conan O’Brien’s show – performing songs off Room on Fire such as “What Ever Happened?,” “I Can’t Win,” and the anthem “Reptilia.”

The Strokes, along with many others, revolutionized rock music in the 2000’s – a time when boy bands and white men wearing backwards hats dominated in the industry. No late night host wanted those artists, which explains why they constantly had much older musicians perform a song off their twenty-seventh studio album – which wasn’t always bad, but not fresh. After the Strokes played several times on late night TV, late night hosts became intrigued and started booking new rock bands such as The White Stripes, The Hives, Franz Ferdinand, TV on the Radio, years after years. The Strokes just didn’t revolutionize rock music in the 2000’s, they revolutionized late night TV.

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The Strokes performing “Games” on Conan, in 2010.

Below are two of the best Strokes performances from their prime, both on Late Night with Conan O’Brien.

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