As well as 2023 ending the four-year hiatus since The Strokes headlined All Points East, this festival day saw terrific performances by The Walkmen, Amyl and the Sniffers and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
After taking a ten-year break, The Walkmen returned with the same rigour and passion that earned them acclaim in the early noughties. The performances of classics such as “The Rat” demonstrated that this was no quick win or profit reunion. The constant energy of Amyl and the Sniffers brought excellent festival vibes and inducted many non-punk music connoisseurs to the genre. Even when it rained for ten minutes, the brilliant delivery of hits, including “Guided by Angels,” did not dim collective crowd energy. The Melbourne band could not put a foot wrong and even earned applause when they gave an impromptu acapella rendition of “It’s Raining, It’s Pouring”.
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs demonstrated how to perfectly mix punk, indie and synths and overexcite a crowd by throwing two blow-up giant eyeballs into the crowd as they played “Zero”. Following the Yeah Yeah Yeahs performance, everyone made the exodus from the West stage to the main East stage to see the headline act, The Strokes. Excitement was in the air. Each time production teased by dimming down the lights before the band went on stage, the crowd cheered, hoping Is this it?
There was poor lighting when The Strokes emerged on stage, so the band could not be fully seen. Nonetheless, frontman Julian Casablancas’ appeared in silhouette with sunglasses. Along with poor lighting came unsatisfactory sound. This made it difficult for The Strokes to engage and galvanise the crowd. As a result, playing “Last Nite” as the third track was a wrong decision. Whilst this sacrosanct live staple brought joy and delight, the room was far from being on fire, so the audience could not fully appreciate this song.
Regretfully, the sound issues did not improve, and whilst there were glimpses of impressive lighting amidst the night sky in the form of luminous scalene triangles, they seldom revealed the features of the New York quintet. Casablancas’ microphone often resembled the sound quality of Toy Story’s Woody when his pull string was set in motion. The sound hindered Julian when he did compare in-between tracks.
Whilst The Strokes have a superb back catalogue, the sound quality made them appear as one-trick ponies who had not evolved their sound over a career exceeding two decades. After song six, “Juicebox”, many audience members began to leave.
Occasional sound problems can occur. For around thirty seconds, the sound was lost in the middle of the Amyl and the Sniffers set. However, consistent problems throughout a headline set are difficult to tolerate. Audience members complained of sound issues during The Strokes 2019 All Points East headline debut. Whilst The Strokes legacy consists of a glorious back catalogue and many outstanding shows, their sophomore 2023 All Points East headline performance will be their second shortcoming.