Review: The Strokes Energize Metro in Support of Candidate Kina Collins

It's been a little over 20 years since The Strokes stopped by the Metro stage, right at the height of their Is This It release. That album is filled with songs that have been cemented in the modern rock canon. Over the years, The Strokes' fanbase has only grown larger, which has made another Metro show a little harder to come by. But after a a chance meeting with Kina Collins, who is running for the 7th Congressional district seat, an intimate show with the Strokes came to life. This past Friday night, The Strokes filled up Metro for Kina Collins and reinforced their storied legacy.

When Kina Collins initially came to the stage, the crowd erupted in cheers. At first may have just been appreciation of getting The Strokes back in the building, but quickly turned to solidarity. The 31-year-old Collins is running to unseat the incumbent congressman in her 7th Congressional district, who she frustratingly noted has been in that position since she was 5 years old. She laid it out very clearly: "I’m running for Congress because we need representation that gives a damn about us!” Collins proceeded to outline exactly what she's fighting for: unionization (specifically pointing out Starbucks and Amazon), universal healthcare, body autonomy, gun control, the Green New Deal, and continually more progressive ideals. With every passing point of her platform, the crowd cheered louder.

The show was originally planned for late May, just in time to get people to get registered to vote by mail. However a case of COVID struck the band and the fundraiser had to be delayed. But that wouldn't stop Collins or the The Strokes, who then spoke about the impetus of the night. “I was at a party in New York and I met a tall guy named Julian.” The mere mention of the Stroke's frontman had the crowd aching for the concert to start. However, that time wouldn't come for another hour or so. But once it did, it was pure bliss.

The Strokes have a special aura about them, equal parts carefree and care far too much. The five steadfast members (Julian Casablancas, Albert Hammond Jr., Nikolai Fraiture, Fabrizio Moretti, and Nick Valensi) emerged from backstage to a sea of cheers sprinkled with a few tired jeers. The band was definitely late to the show, but that wasn't going to stop them from putting on one hell of a night. Opening with "Bad Decisions" off their latest album The New Abnormal, all that uncomfortable waiting melted away. They didn't need much to make the crowd feel their energy, it was pouring into the room from the get go.

The Strokes immediately followed with "Juicebox," a massively invigorating song that sparked an early ramp up in the crowd. The set featured plenty of The New Abnormal tracks, an album that definitely felt like a return to form of sorts, but it was the older and lesser heard tracks that really hit with the crowd. The bright guitars of "Automatic Stop" had the crowd continuing their groove after "Juicebox." "The Modern Age" seamed to catch them by surprise in the latter half of the set, but nowhere near as much as "Electricityscape," which they have only recently rotated back into their sets.

However, it's impossible not to note out the obvious highlights of the night as The Strokes' setlist seemed to revolve around them. "You Only Live Once" popped the crowd half way through their set, giving the crowd another moment bliss. "Someday," another one of those songs that has just persevered and grown better with time took the crowd into overdrive, letting them bop around with enthusiastic carelessness. However, the loudest and most exuberant moment of the proper set came for the regular set's closer. The blistering "Reptilia" with its opening drums and bass leading into into electrifying guitars that surge for a moment before Casablancas' voice takes over was a breathtaking experience.

Throughout the night, Casablancas made sure to reiterate the purpose of the evening. While he's always had a political leaning, Casablancas has further entrenched himself in progressive politics in recent years. He and the Strokes endorsed Bernie Sanders in 2020, New York mayoral candidate Maya Wiley last year, and Casablancas even started an interview series S.O.S.–Earth is a Mess, delving further into progressive ideas. His passion was met positively at Metro as he pointed out Kina Collins' non-corporate nature and her looking out for everyone, emphasizing that makes her a worthy representative for a city like Chicago.

By the time The Strokes' encore came there were only a few tracks that could close the night out right. Considering just how well the show had gone, there was no doubt in the crowd mind that they would stick the landing and stick the landing they did. The high-pitched notes of "Eternal Summer" off The New Abnormal warmed the crowd up for "What Ever Happened." The crowd burst loudy again for the latter, jamming out to Room on Fire's opening track with all the energy that had been exponentially growing all night long.

All the hype and enthusiasm was finally able to be released as The Strokes left the crowd a chill little Abraham Lincoln-inspired jam before diving in head first into "Last Nite," the band's second single off their debut album. It's a song that has endured for the band, a staple of their sound that is so instantly recognizable. The opening strum was enough to send everyone into a frenzy, bouncing in their spot waiting for Casablancas' gravelly voice to snarl "Last night she said, Oh, baby, I feel so down" at the top of his lungs. It was an utter delight to see and hear this iconic band give it their all, not only for a packed Metro full of devoted fans, but to Kina Collins as well.

All photos by Julian Ramirez

The Illinois primary is being held on Tuesday, June 28. You can register to vote in person at an early voting site or your election day polling place. You can find out more about 7th District congressional candidate Kina Collins at her website.

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Julian Ramirez