Julian Casablancas playing secret shows after announcement of new LP

By Adilene Rodriguez

When The Governor’s Ball, a New York based music festival, announced its lineup on January 15, music fans were taken by surprise to see that after a two year hiatus, The Strokes were set to headline the festival. But right below the other headliners on the bill, was also The Strokes front man Julian Casablancas’ name.

Although it was a surprise to see that his band is to headline a music festival after a rushed album release last year and their last live performance being in 2011, Casablancas announcement to play at the festival wasn’t.

Casablancas was already announced to play in Lollapalooza’s Chile and Brazil dates, and the SXSW music festival in Texas. Although Casablancas announced these dates, there was still no word on what he was working on or when it would come out. But finally on March 6, Casablancas announced in the form of an album trailer that he would be releasing an LP under the name Julian Casablancas + the Voidz.

In the album trailer, there are snippets of songs, which could possibly be featured on the album, play as what looks like home recorded videos of the band practicing and clips of riot videos roll. In the grainy video we also get a first glimpse of Casablancas’ new backing band “the Voidz” as they play alongside the Strokes leading man. It ends with a logo of the new project zooming in and out of the screen in a very 80’s style fashion.

This will be Casablancas’ second solo project following his 2009 release of “Phrazes For the Young.” No date has been set for the release of the LP or a name, but what is known is that the LP will be released under Casablancas’ label, Cult Records.

In support of the news, Casablancas has been playing secret shows in the US. Leading up to his SXSW festival performance on March 14, Casablancas and his new backing band have played three secret shows in three different states. The first of the secret shows was on March 8 in Washington, D.C.’s Sleep Walking Cult art space. The second show, which he announced via his Twitter account hours before the show, was at One Eyed Jacks in New Orleans, LA on March 10. And finally the last one was at The Handlebar in Pensacola, FL on March 11

In the secret shows, Casablancas played four new songs titled, “Ego,” “2231,” “Dr. Acula,” and “Arabic.” Along with the new tracks, Casablancas played some old Strokes songs as well as a cover of “Instant Crush,” the song he collaborated with Daft Punk for their 2013 album Random Access Memories.

One of the few lucky fans that got to be in the New Orleans show was Summer Hortman. After a friend sent her a text message telling her about rumors of a possible show that very day, Hortman went on the venue’s website where the show was confirmed.  Hortman said rushing and shuffling around to get to the show was well worth it when she heard the new material Casablancas had to play.

“Julian’s band is doing something way different from what Julian did as a solo artist during Phrazes [For The Young],” said Hortman. “The new album should be pretty rad.”

Hortman even got to meet the man of the hour and talk to him where Casablancas told her about plans for the following secret show in Florida, which she later tweeted about and broke news of the Florida show. Hortman says he explained why he chose to do secret shows.

“He said [he] prefers smaller group settings because they’re more intimate and personal, compared to festival type shows,” Hortman said.

For now, there hasn’t been any recent news about more secret shows to come, but fans still hold out hope he’ll continue the shows in hopes of seeing Casablancas live. One fan is Kean Student, Ashley Magani.

“If he does play a secret show nearby it’ll probably in New York since he’s from there but I don’t mind going to the city to see him,” says Magani.  “I hope he does play one soon.”

As for us, it’s back to the waiting game.

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