5th Dec 2014
Julian Casablancas & The Voidz rock House of Vans London with a free show.
Nestled in, what was previously known as The Old Vic tunnels, beneath Waterloo station resides the House of Vans. One of only two currently worldwide – the other being in New York – House of Vans came to London in August 2014, a mere four months ago, and has since had bands such as rock legends the Foo Fighters walk its halls.
The raw and rustic looking venue reflects skate culture in both its creative aesthetics and attitude, and encompasses different spaces for a range of activities and interests – the majority of which are absolutely free. For example, it houses London’s only indoor skate park, an exhibition space, 100 seat cinema, a diner, bar and the 850 capacity gig space.
It is here that The Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas takes the stage with his side project, The Voidz. Formed in 2013, the band – completed by guitarists Jeramy ‘Beardo’ Gritter and Amir Yaghmai, bassist Jake Bercovici, drummer Alex Carapetis, and Jeff Kite on keys – enter the stage to an almighty roar from the crowd.
“Is this thing on?” Casablancas laughs into the mic before launching into their set, which is peppered with crowd pleasers from The Strokes’ back catalogue as well as The Voidz’ new material. From the get-go there is very little interaction with the audience – Casablancas turning his back to the throng quite frequently. An intentional move to let the songs speak for themselves perhaps, however, technical difficulties resulted in the vocals being less than coherent for the first few tracks.
With that being said, by the third song in, the show hits its stride; the band and crowd alike seem to have warmed up and it feels like a new sense of life has been breathed into proceedings from here on out. However, the stand out moment of the night was not in the mania of the up-tempo tracks but rather, in their set closer: a stripped back cover of The Strokes’ You Only Live Once. Julian takes to the stage to perform this one alone, and with the gathering vehemently screaming the words back at him, the poignancy of the moment demands your full attention and doesn’t let up.
After the song’s final bars ring out, the audience stay firmly planted where they are, prompting Casablancas to grace the stage once more, bowing with his hands together in a gesture of thanks. “We’re gonna play one more song, then off into the night you go, on to the Friday,” he says, before launching into explosively catchy track Dare I Care – during which he is briefly swallowed after boldly diving into the horde.
“The night is young, have fun guys,” says Casablancas as he too disappears into the Friday, and it becomes clear that, despite the teething problems, the band were more than capable of electrifying this compact venue for the lucky ticket holders and steadying what was a very shaky start to the night.