A stroke of integrity, ingenuity

Alejandra Garcia | Staff Writer

Photo by Alejandra Garcia

Photo by Alejandra Garcia

The Strokes’ guitarist, Albert Hammond, Jr. released his solo EP “AHJ,” through Cult Records, his band mate, Julian Casablancas’ label.

This is the follow up from Hammond, Jr’s 2008 album, “¿Cómo te Llama?”

After admitting his struggles with drug addiction, Hammond, Jr. cleaned up his act and has been sober for five years.

The fresh-faced guitarist is ready for his new solo project, and “AHJ” is already winning the hearts of his fans as well as those die-hard Strokes fans.

Hammond, Jr’s first show was Nov. 19 in Southern California this year for his “AHJ” tour.

Santa Ana’s Constellation Room was filled up with your typical hipsters and trendsetters.

There was a clash of hoodies and leather jackets were among the whole venue, and the rowdiness and chatter came to an end as the red stage lights came on.

Screams and shouts were all the rage as Albert Hammond, Jr. walked on stage with his signature white Fender Stratocaster.

He looked around and smiled at the audience, “wow, a lot of people showed up!” said Hammond, Jr. “We’re gonna play a few songs.”

Hammond, Jr. kicked off with “Holiday,” from his debut album, “Yours to Keep” which had the whole crowd singing along.

The mood was bright and he played songs from his sophomore album, “¿Cómo te Llama?” like “GfC,” “Victory At Monterey,” as well as tracks from his debut
album and his latest single, “St. Justice.”

As Hammond Jr. finished up “St. Justice” there was a few shouts that requested old songs from The Strokes. “Reptilia” and “Is this it” were often yelled when
Hammond Jr. tuned his guitar.

“I’ve got an idea,” said Hammond Jr. and he pointed to his fellow guitarist. His fellow bandmate played a familiar guitar riff, “In Transit,” from his debut album. People cheered and jumped up and down, as well as Hammond Jr, who did a little rock ‘n’ roll jump with his guitar.

It was the song that fueled the venue into a frenzy and had the crowd surfing as well as the occasional mosh pit, which looked like a sea of people swaying back and forth like a wave.

People sang that song word for word as if it were their anthem, and Hammond Jr. and his band gave their best performance.

“That was fun in there!” said Hammond Jr. “I too would like to join!”

He continued with “Cooker Ship,” a song from his “AHJ” EP. As the show was coming to an end people were yelling in protest. Hammond Jr. settled down the audience with ease.

“I wanted to play this one song from my second record, its called ‘Lisa’” said Hammond Jr, He managed to keep the crowd in trance with his energetic performance.

Hammond Jr. played two more songs from latest EP, as well as “Postal Blowfish” from “Yours to Keep.”

Hammond Jr. closed his performance with a cover song, “Last Caress” from the Misfits.

It was a perfect choice, which suited the crowd’s constant moshing, dancing and head banging.

Hammond Jr and his band left the stage, and the audience kept shouting his name for an encore.

Just as the crowd started losing hope that their guitar hero would come out, the red lights went off once more.

Hammond Jr. and his band came back on stage, and the roar of the crowd got louder than ever.

“Two for one special tonight,” said Hammond Jr. “Two for Tuesday, isn’t that what they do here?

He kept his promise, and played two more songs for his encore. Hammond Jr. played “In My Room” from “¿Cómo te Llama?” with his band.

As the time came to finally close the performance, the band left the stage, and Hammond Jr was left alone when he started to play his ballad, “Blue Skies.”

The audience was surprisingly silent as he sang, which is really rare for The Constellation Room.

People whipped out their glowing cell phones and lighters. The crowd then joined Hammond Jr. at the chorus of the song, giving the performance a sense
of unity with the performer and his audience.

People cheered and clapped at the end of the song, and Hammond Jr’s amazement was sincere as he finally said goodbye.

“Honestly, you guys,” said Hammond Jr. “Amazing! Thank you, so much! Hope to see you again soon.”