I arrived at the Bowery Ballroom a few minutes before the doors opened already seeing crowds of people patiently waiting in line. It made sense, of course. We were all here to see Nick Valensi (lead guitarist of The Strokes
) and his band CRX
. The five-piece consists of drummer Ralph Alexander, keyboardist/guitarist Richie Follin, bassist Jon Safley, guitarist/backing vocalist Darian Zahedi, and of course, frontman Nick Valensi. As I entered, it was no doubt that CRX caused a huge stir within the historic intimate venue. Excited concertgoers were rushing to the front of the stage hoping to snag the perfect spot to watch Valensi's locks whip in time with his skillful guitar riffs.
Though CRX was the most anticipated headliner, folk-rock group Streets of Laredo
and Californian rock band The Gloomies made their impressive debut, intensifying the electricity of the atmosphere and keeping everyone on their feet and dancing. Eventually, the lights began to dim and an array of multi-colored lights danced over the stage as the audience began to cheer and clap, encouraging the band to make their appearance. As if on cue, the five-piece emerged on stage with cool confidence. A sea of phones emerged from the crowd with everyone determined to capture a shot of Valensi and his Fender. They immediately began playing their first song "On Edge," the seventh track off their recently released album New Skin.
From the start of the song to the finish, the band cast a head-banging, fist-pumping spell on everyone, causing everyone to get up off their feet and dance the night away.
Any preconceived notions of CRX from Strokes fans were completely wiped off the board when Valensi led the band into impressive instrumental riffs, strong melodies, and wicked lyrical content. Highlights include "Give It Up," "Broken Bones," "Unnatural," and "Slow Down" where each song amplified the next, keeping the rock atmosphere consistent. With an infectious attitude and confident vibe, Valensi proved to the audience that chaos is beautiful and music can only elevate it.
Valensi later took the microphone to take the audience down memory lane with him as he pointed out that he had used to work at the Bowery Ballroom selling merchandise to fans. Dreaming of being able to perform on stage, he sought to make it his reality revealing to his fans and what many aspiring musicians hope to do in a heartfelt, genuine, and touching moment. By the end of the show, CRX showed the energetic crowd that the band is more than just Valensi being the lead guitarist of The Strokes. He showed the audience that hard work pays off and that CRX is here to stay.