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  • Julian Casablancas + The Voidz Perform At FADER Fort @ SXSW '14
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Julian Casablancas

Julian Casablancas and his new band the Voidz played two shows during SXSW. The first, Thursday night at Cedar Street Courtyard, was a short hit-less headlining performance that included five new songs. The venue’s muddy sound and a distinct lack of enthusiasm from Casablancas, one of the most iconic rock stars of the previous decade, left many in attendance scratching their heads. The band’s second gig, at FADER Fort last night sandwiched between Travi$ Scott and Erykah Badu, was not any more well-received. The band performed their haphazard, drowsy, prog-metal in darkness, and in the moments when one could actually hear the screeching vocals of their hunched-over frontman, whose back was often turned to the crowd, the vibe was far from captivating. I don’t think JC said one thing to the audience all night, aside from shouting out Travi$ Scott. One highlight, however, was the eminently likable “Instant Crush,” Casablancas’ Daft Punk collaboration, which the Voidz played at a secret show in New Orleans last week. It was the only song the crowd knew. Below you can watch a web stream rip of the entire set via this Strokes fansite. That site’s writer hated the performance so much he’s having a crisis of confidence:

I tried to write the first sentence of this post about seven different ways, but let’s get to the point: this 30-minute gig was terrible. It made me, somebody who considers The Strokes my favorite band, cringe multiple times.

Maybe there’s an explanation as to why this was so hard to listen to — the show last night blew out Julian’s voice, there wasn’t enough time for sound check, the Voidz are subpar and destroyed Julian’s confidence, he was high – but I’m having a serious existential crisis about my love for the Strokes right now.

Am I the only one who feels this way?

“Instant Crush” starts at 7min…

Nice to see this, though:

The Voidz album is not done yet, I’m told, but is expected this summer.

Comments (23)
  1. Wait so are you saying that the music is shit, or the performance was just bad?

    • I dunno, that first song in the second video kind of sounds like Perfect Pussy to me, and apparently everyone is in love with them (or their friendship to them — It’s hard to tell what actually constitutes as unbiased opinion these days…) at SXSW. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  2. That’s just sad to watch. Julian is one of my absolute favorites, but there’s no way I’m gonna try defend that performance. It’s not just bad, it’s like bizarrely, hard to believe this is even happening bad.

  3. The Fader Fort: where musicians fade away

  4. I dug it, a lot. This music is awesome. Definitely a different vibe for Jules, but fucking fantastic nonetheless.

  5. when Instant Crush is played by a band it sounds suspiciously similar to My Chemical Romance’s i’m not okay (I promise)

  6. I’m just having a hard time imagining JC and Travi$ Scott chillin together.

  7. That performance was… hard to explain.

  8. I guess if this band ever comes to my town, I should aVoidz them at all costs! I’ll be here all week, folks!

  9. Did anyone actually expect them to be good?

  10. I’m really truly surprised to see that anyone here thinks that was a bad performance on the band’s behalf, or that they’re bad musicians in the slightest. Julian was certainly a little funky a lot of the time, and it’s less pleasantly melodic than Phrazes or Strokes stuff, but that kind of singing is pretty par for the course with Julian in a live setting. I really enjoyed it, and am excited he’s actually using this as an outlet for something different! I loved Phrazes, but it wasn’t radically un-Strokes-y. It’s not like they’re strangers to synths at this point.

    Honestly, I really want someone to make a case for that being a bad performance (of the musicians). I just don’t understand. I think maybe some people are not used to live Julian vocals and they don’t care much for the weirder songwriting here, and they’re letting that color their perception of what is a musically pretty dang impressive performance, especially between the two guitarists.

  11. The thing is it seems like he didn’t have any of these troubles the night before at the Chevy courtyard. I know the videos from that were just crappy cell phone footage and the sound wasn’t great, but it seemed like he was doing fine and even hitting most the notes in “Ize of the World” and “Glass” which don’t seem like easy songs to sing. If I had to guess I’d say he was probably thrown off/psyched out last night due to the stress of performing new songs with a new band in front of a crowd that obviously didn’t seem to be at all into him to begin with.

  12. Yeah I have to agree with Scott and most of the comments here. Julian is usually so incredibly electrifying and The Strokes are fantastic, but this performance sounds stifled and his vocals sound rushed/slurred. Usually his delivery is still on point even with his style, but I can hear it go flat. Many bands can make up for occasional flatness with energy, but that seems strained too. Still love your work though Jules. Nobodys perfect all the time.

  13. Stereogum’s SXSW coverage has been incredibly disappointing to me. I feel like you guys have really failed the little guys of this year just to talk about already huge bands that don’t need a boost (Julian Casablanca, Tyler the Creator, freaking Lady Gaga!) or just the same few buzz bands the whole week (Future Islands, Perfect Pussy). There’s nothing wrong with any of those bands, but I don’t think reporting on Kanye West and Lady Gaga is really the point of SXSW coverage.

  14. I’m a fan of the Strokes, live or on their albums, so please don’t take this as any kind of trolling. It’s really, really not. But I’m a bit baffled by some of the comments here. Julian Casablancas has never seemed like a particularly interesting or charismatic front man to me. He barely does anything other than stand there and sing the songs. I’ve rarely seen him say anything to the any audience. So for me it would have to just be about the music, his part included, but I can’t comment on that now because the video is gone.

    • I think with him it’s more about the personality and aura of “cool” that comes across in his music that draws people in. Obviously he’s not the most technically proficient singer in the world, far from it, but he seems to have a way of drawing you in with his effortless and smooth delivery. And I think that’s what is absent here that makes this performance really strike a nerve with how bad it is. Everything we know about him is suspiciously absent and he seems super insecure and uncomfortable trying to perform these songs in front of this crowd. I hate to sound like an alarmist, but this does not seem like a good sign at all for him moving forward and I’m a little worried this experience might deter him from deciding to properly tour this new album.

  15. Nothing to see here, move along. Julez probably just didn’t feel like performing, was having on off day, smoked too much grass, etc. It happens.

  16. if they think that was really bad they should have seen St. Vincent….. oh no, wait, Stereogum won’t say anything ‘coz they have a contract :)

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