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The Strokes

OK, so they didn’t save rock & roll. If they did, we wouldn’t have had to bear the likes of, say, Three Days Grace.

But the Strokes did make quite an impression back in the hazy, crazy fall of 2001: With the release of their debut album (Is This It?), and thanks in no small part to the kiss-uppery of the British music press, the band were heralded as the purveyors of the New (York City) Rock. And their scrappy, consciously lo-fi sound (Julian Casablancas sounded as if his vocals were recorded through a gauze-wrapped SM-58) certainly helped to steer the course of mainstream modern rock away from overproduced mush like Everclear and Third Eye Blind. So thank them for that, at least.

And, to their credit, they are a real band who can really play. “When we play live,” says bassist Nikolai Fraiture, “our goal is to kind of appease the record buyer, in knowing that he’ll hear the same thing—and hopefully better sometimes. We try to shy away from the over-crazy production, [because] then you go to the show and it’s a lot flatter than the album.”

As the story goes, Room on Fire, the band’s second album, was basically Is This It? with better tunes—early sessions with Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich imploded, sending them back to square one—but with their third album, First Impressions of Earth (released January 2006), the group were able to push their established boundaries. “Pretty much everything was different—the songwriting, the production. . . . After two albums, we felt that we had exhausted the Gordon [Rafael, producer of the first two albums] lo-fi medium.”

And lo-fi it’s certainly not: Under the hand of veteran producer David Kahne, Casablancas’ voice is as clear as a summer day, and the band’s tight-knit riffery—the interplay between guitarists Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond, Jr.—is sharper than ever. Fraiture even gets a star moment via his Peter Gunn-referencing bass line on the single “Juicebox.”

Now, at the end of a yearlong tour supporting Impressions—a tour that recently saw them open for Tom Petty in his hometown of Gainesville, Fla.—the band face an indefinite period of time off. Says Fraiture, “We’re gonna put our feet back on the ground and realize what just happened. We enjoy playing live . . . [but] it takes its toll. Being away from home for so long . . . you have to readjust to all the changes and everything that are going on.”

That’s not to say they don’t have any surprises left. With three albums of material to pull from, they promise a varied setlist, and, according to Fraiture, there’s “a little more gusto” in their light show.

“We have a new lighting guy who’s sort of a Deadhead.”

The Strokes, with special guests South and the Loyalty, will perform tomorrow (Friday, Oct. 6) at the Washington Avenue Armory. Tickets for the 8 PM show are $28. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 694-7160 ext. 26 or visit www.washingtonavenuearmory.com.

—John Brodeur

Ron White

Cigar-chomping, scotch-guzzling comic Ron White’s current tour is called “You Can’t Fix Stupid.” We have to agree with the title; it’s a time-proven fact. The GOP has been trying for years, but to no avail.

Of course that joke probably won’t fly with much of White’s fanbase—we’re not even sure it flew with us—because as a member of the Blue Collar Comedy family, his people are predominantly of the red-state variety. (You might be a redneck if . . . you enjoy Jeff Foxworthy!) But the man they call Tater Salad (well, he says people call him that) manages to transcend the limits of his presumed audience by actually being funny, which never hurts.

Ron White’s “You Can’t Fix Stupid” lands at Proctor’s Theatre (432 State St., Schenectady) today (Thursday, Oct. 5) at 8 PM. According to the Proctor’s Web site, only single seats are left at $39.75 a pop, but you never know what might open up, so it’s worth giving the box office a call 346-6204.

 

Berkshire Harvest Festival

The weather couldn’t have been more cooperative, with just enough cold temperatures on just enough nights to zap the trees from green to red in time for the 72nd Annual Berkshire Harvest Festival. Because, after all, there’s nothing like fall foliage in Western Massachusetts for spectacular scenery.

This year’s festival continues a long tradition of celebrating community, “showcasing local artisans of the highest quality, supporting local services, and promoting a wide array of Berkshire area products.” There will be fun for the kids (pony rides, hay rides, a haunted house, face painting, crafts, games and pumpkins), musical entertainment for the whole family (Ramblin’ Jug Stompers, John Porcino, Moonshine Holler, Berkshire Ramblers), crafts, a tag sale and a wide array of tasty foodstuffs.

The 72nd Annual Berkshire Harvest Festival will be held Saturday and Sunday (Oct. 7-8) from 10 AM to 5 PM at the Berkshire Botanical Garden (Routes 183 and 102, Stockbridge, Mass.). Admission is free, but you’ll have to leave Fido and Fluffy at home (no pets on the grounds). For more info, visit www.berkshirebotanical.org or call (413) 298-3926.


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