On Wednesday night at U Street Music Hall in Washington, D.C., The Gloomies, Streets of Laredo and CRX performed. The venue may not have been packed, but there was a strong cohort of dedicated Strokes fans who came out to see The Strokes’ guitarist, Nick Valensi, perform with his new side-project band, CRX.

The Gloomies, a four-piece surf-rock band out of southern California, kicked the night off with the small, but enthusiastic crowd. Playing through their EPs, Blackout, and, “LSD,” they set the tone for the night with some powerful mellow rock melodies.

The Streets of Laredo, a five-piece indie folk-rock band out of Auckland, New Zealand, took the stage next as the crowd began to grow. Filling the music hall with their unique blend of psychedelic Americana and folk-pop rock, they utilized everything from trumpets to tambourines. The band played a heavy dose of songs off their new album, WILD.

Andy Craig, lead singer and guitarist of California band, The Gloomies, opening for CRX at U Street Music Hall in DC. (Cassie Osvatics/Bloc Reporter)
Andy Craig, lead singer and guitarist of California band, The Gloomies, opening for CRX at U Street Music Hall in DC. (Cassie Osvatics/Bloc Reporter)

Wild is a good way to describe the way the crowd acted when CRX finally took the stage.

Now finding myself in the front row, I realized I was face-to-face with one of the greatest guitarists of our generation: Nick Valensi. Launching straight into their brand new album, New Skin, it seemed like everything in the room got turned up a notch — from the volume of the band  to the crowd’s energy.  

“The first two bands were good, but as soon as CRX came on, there was a definite shift in energy, and as the band performed, it was easy to remember who we came to see and why,”  animal science and pre-vet freshman Maiah Xayavong said after the show.

Ralph Alexander, drummer of CRX performing at U Street Music Hall. (Cassie Osvatics/Bloc Reporter)
Ralph Alexander, drummer of CRX performing at U Street Music Hall. (Cassie Osvatics/Bloc Reporter)

Kicking things off with the high energy, heavy rock song “On Edge,” Valensi immediately showed the crowd that his transition to lead vocalist was a seamless one. Carrying on the heavy rock theme, CRX played through “Give It Up” and “Broken Bones.”

Taking a moment to say hello to the D.C. crowd, Valensi asked the crowd what they “[thought] of that guy Trump. Is he really moving here?” Already unified through the music being played before them, now the crowd came together to hurl jeers at the president-elect.

Quickly launching back into their set, CRX began to move toward their new wave pop-punk sound with songs like “One Track Mind,” “Slow Down” and, their biggest hit, “Ways to Fake It,” which the devoted crowd was happy to sing along to.

Darian Zahedi, lead guitarist of CRX performing at U Street Music Hall. (Cassie Osvatics/Bloc Reporter)
Darian Zahedi, lead guitarist of CRX performing at U Street Music Hall. (Cassie Osvatics/Bloc Reporter)

“I don’t always do this, but I feel a connection with you guys tonight,” Valeni said smiling as he paused between songs again to chat with the crowd in this very intimate setting.

He then proceeded to introduce each of the members of his new band.

“And this big guy over here in the fur coat is Jon Safley. He doubles as a bouncer so don’t mess with us after the show,” Valensi said, laughing to himself while introducing the bassist.

Finishing the show with “Monkey Machine” and “Walls,” the music hall thundered with incredible guitar solos and powerful vocals.

“I don’t know what to make of it, when everyone is faking it,” Valensi sang and with that the show came to an end.

Valensi was anything but fake after the show as he, along with all the other members of the three bands, stayed to hang out and mingle with the crowd in the small venue. Pausing to take pictures, chat and laugh with fans, it was almost hard to believe that this sweet, gentle man had just rocked U Street Music Hall.

Featured Photo Credit: Nick Valensi, lead singer and guitarist of CRX performing at U Street Music Hall. Valensi is also the guitarist for The Strokes. (Cassie Osvatics/Bloc Reporter)

Tommy Diehl is a freshman architecture major and can be reached at tdiehl@terpmail.umd.edu.

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