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Culture Reviews
The Strokes
DK Gorbunova 
By Sonya Rinkus
Did an urban hipster population materialize when The Strokes struck DK Gorbunova? Or was it merely people from the office who had taken the time to put on Converse sneakers and muss up their hair in the mirror before stepping out to see the mop-topped quintet from New York City? At any rate, the venue was packed with people who had paid good money (2,000 rubles and up) to watch 2001's hottest band with a head-nodding cool worthy of CBGB. Except for the guy who snuck in an American flag and waved it enthusiastically from the VIP rafters - he wasn't cool.

The Strokes went on way after the scheduled 7 p.m. start time, so stragglers who had to stay late at work and couldn't find DK Gorbunova way out by Bagarationovskaya metro only missed opening Russian rock group Blast and had ample time to down 40-ruble Smirnoff Ices and re-muss up their hair in the bathroom. Taking the stage, The Strokes plunged into a block of songs from their latest offering, "First Impressions of Earth," the album for which they are touring internationally, and which landed them with us in far-away Moscow on the Fourth of July. For a band continually plagued by issues of its own indie authenticity, The Strokes could not have asked for a more punk venue than DK Gorbunova. The speaker quality was awful, straight Velvet Underground. Drummer Fabrizio Moretti was completely enveloped in a cloud of theatrical fog. Bouncers violently tackled crowd surfers, causing lead singer Julian Casablancas to look around distressed for reassurance from the wings. "Welcome to Russia!" we yelled.

They knew they couldn't get away with just doing new stuff, and didn't even try. All the hits from "Is This It," the album that made them wildly MTV famous, were played: "Last Nite," "Take It or Leave It," "New York City Cops." When they started into "Someday," I raced upstairs from the bathroom line to scream along to the lyrics and wave a lighter with the rest of the Anglophones. (The British Embassy had a solid showing.) Julian prowled the stage in skinny jeans, punctuating the awkward silence between songs with "Spasibos" and "You guys are great." I assumed they'd been instructed to keep the banter simple out of language considerations, but my friend who had seen them before said no. They just don't have much to say.

But the camaraderie of indie musicians needs no words. The Strokes saw the cool of the audience and respected it, putting on an earnest show even in little old DK Gorbunova with its busted speakers. Before surrendering the stage, Julian took the liberty of pashing a girl sitting on her boyfriend's shoulders in the audience. That was cool.

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