Bernie Sanders may or may not end up getting us free health care, but he did bring a free Strokes concert to Dunham, New Hampshire on Monday. And that counts for something, considering how much it cost to see them at Barclays Center on New Year’s Eve. At the Brooklyn show, they played some new songs and announced their first album since 2013; this time around, they kicked things off with a Bernie-appropriate cover of “Burning Down the House” and revealed that the album, The New Abnormal, will be out April 10.
The Strokes weren’t the only rock stars at Monday’s rally at the Whittemore Center Arena. Ohio State Senator Nina Turner’s leopard-print number outsnazzed even Julian Casablancas’s outfit, a colorful pop-art suit bearing comic exclamations like “POW!” and “BANG!” Quoting Martin Luther King, Helen Keller, and Maya Angelou in an effort to convince the crowd that “practicality” wasn’t the answer, she called for “somebody that’s going to go HAM on the system.” Soon after, former gubernatorial candidate and Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon took the stage to explain why she supported Hillary Clinton in 2016 (“we are not going to do that here,” she said of the subsequent boos) and why she had come around to Sanders now that “the world looks entirely different.” She encouraged others to “come out of the closet as a Bernie supporter.”
After Turner, Cornel West was the next fiery Sanders surrogate to inject some much-welcomed color into the predominantly young, white crowd. The Harvard professor and activist gave a rousing speech in favor of voting for the “deep Jewish brother” over “the milquetoast neoliberal” and then turned things over to the Bronx’s own Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She eventually brought up Sanders, who– surrounded by his wife, kids, and grandkids– bragged that there were three times more people there than at any other Democratic rally in New Hampshire (crowd estimate: about 7,500).
Sanders didn’t stray from his usual stump speech, but the Strokes set offered some surprises, starting with the set decoration. Sanders’s name was emblazoned on Fabrizio Moretti’s bass drumhead in the style of the Strokes logo, and guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. was rocking a Bad Brains t-shirt that, none too subtly, showed a lightning bolt striking DC’s capitol building. To that end, the band kicked things off with a cover of the Talking Heads’ “Burning Down the House,” during which Casablancas called for the crowd to “give it up for the senator, Bernie Sanders. Where did he go? I think he’s gone.”
If Sanders didn’t stick around, plenty of people did hang out to watch the Strokes play their first-ever show in what Casablancas referred to as “sweet ol’ New Hampshire.” Among those in the press pen: the dirtbag leftists from Chapo Trap House, who had earlier recorded a podcast in Derry, New Hampshire. Finding oneself next to them at a Bernie Sanders rally is something akin to being next to Martin Scorsese at a Rolling Stones concert. Multiple people asked Matt Christman et. al. for selfies even as the podcasters wigged out to classics like “Someday,” “Hard to Explain,” and “The End Has No End.”
“Moral people here tonight,” Casablancas observed between songs. “Moral people unite! I think, yeah, I think this is a beautiful thing.” With that, the band debuted a new song that was “about 2016,” according to Casablancas. The chorus of the Modern English-esque number– about “making bad decisions”– made it clear what he meant. Other new songs included “The Adults Are Talking” and “At the Door,” a prerecorded number accompanied by the animated video below.
In a press release about the rally, Casablancas referred to Sanders as “a dedicated, diligent, & trustworthy patriot — and fellow native New Yorker! As the only truly non-corporate candidate, Bernie Sanders represents our only chance to overthrow corporate power and help return America to democracy.” He put it a little more colorfully on stage, comparing “the people that Bernie is trying to knock out of office… modern businesspeople” to pirates who “stole and raped for money.”
With that bit of preaching to the choir out of the way, Casablancas promised to focus on “uncontroversial music.” But the band ended up closing with their most controversial song. Referring to previous lighting issues as “a safety thing from the cops” (presumably in response to some gleeful slamdancing in the crowd) Casablancas introduced “an old favorite” and the band launched into “New York City Cops.” When a fan was prevented from stagediving during the song, Casablancas told security to “let him jump” and encouraged the crowd to “get up on the stage, y’all,” which dozens promptly did.
Toward the end of the song, Casablancas, caught up in a scrum of fans, bumped into a uniformed police officer and pointed at him as he sang “they ain’t too smart.” Probably not what Bernie Sanders had in mind when he talked about fixing the broken criminal justice system, but there you have it.
If you missed it, you can catch the rally and concert via the livestream below.