“It’s been my dream since I was a little boy to play at the opera,” Julian Casablancas, lead signer of The Strokes, told the attendees of the Tommy Hilfiger after party held in the lobby of the Metropolitan Opera House. The Strokes had not played a show in New York since 2006, and in that time the generation who listened to the band when they were younger had grown into figures prominent enough (or sneaky enough) to get into one of Fashion Week’s marquee events. The rest of the band walked on stage, and cameras and champagne flutes rose toward the ceiling.
Before the show started, The Observer saw Ed Westwick, the British actor who plays Chuck Bass on Gossip Girl, standing — naturally — directly next to the bar. He stood over his co-star and current squeeze Jessica Szohr, who was nestled in a bench smoking a cigarette, with Sebastian Stan, who plays Chuck’s buddy/nemesis Carter Baizen on the show. When we approached Mr. Westwick, who was put together well except for a slightly disheveled coif, it became apparent that the open bar had been kind to him.
“Luff the vabe,” he slurred to us, hands in pockets.
What was that, Ed?
“I love the vibe,” he said again.
Ah, OK. Excited for The Strokes?
“Hell, yeah—woooo!” Mr. Westwick mustered. Then, a photographer asked for a picture of Mr. Westwick, who was coming mighty close to channeling his onscreen persona.
When The Strokes took the stage, we found ourselves right back up next to Westwick and his friends. New York’s native sons blitzed through a quick set of classics, each one sounding as fresh as when they were written — despite the band’s break, everything was as tight as ever. The absence had made the hearts in the crowd grow fonder, and it appeared as though the feeling was mutual: they made the conscious choice of opening with “New York City Cops,” an old favorite from the band’s time haunting bars in East Village and the Lower East Side.
And when “Hard to Explain” segued into “You Only Live Once,” Ed Westwick turned to Sebastian Stan, and they went in for the real thing: a big, gregarious bro-hug. We feel the love, too, guys.