Gorillaz at Rough Trade NYC (April 25, 2017)

By Will Oliver, May 1st 2017 — with 2 comments Concert Photos Concert Reviews Listen

Last Tuesday, April 25, Gorillaz made their return to New York City for their first U.S. show in seven years. One would think they’d return to one of venues that they previously visited: MSG, The Apollo, or anything with the the capacity to house a band of their size. This was not the case, as they surprised us all with an impossibly intimate show at Rough Trade NYC last Tuesday, April 25. As per usual with special shows at Rough Trade, you had to buy their new album Humanz the morning of the show at 11am – in theory paying about $30 to see the band at such a small venue (the show may be their smallest to date?). Not a bad deal.

With so much advance warning, this meant that Gorillaz diehards were going to literally lineup and camp out in the rain (because of course it was raining) in order to guarantee themselves a shot at gaining entry to one of the hottest shows of the year. This meant that arriving the night before was not an option, but a requirement in order to gain entry. I was one of the fans crazy enough to wait out for a whole 12 hours, arriving at 11pm along with a few dedicated friends, in order to make sure we got that golden ticket. Even arriving when we did placed us only at numbers 52-55. While waiting on line, word began to spread that the capacity for this show was truly 200 instead of the normal 250, as the stage had to be extended in order to fit all of the band. Then when you factored in 50 guestlist spots, it meant that only 150 diehard fans were really getting in. By 3am the line well eclipsed the 150-person mark, and by morning, it stretched past a hopeless 500. A lot of people unfortunately were turned away, but for those who got in, it meant seeing Damon Albarn and friends in a couple of hours – after we caught up on some well needed and deserved sleep.

Before the show, Albarn greeted us with an explanation that they couldn’t deliver the full spectacle of a show with projections or the enormous production that you’d come to expect from an act of their size, but considering where they were playing, it was a part of the charm to see them play in such a barebones manner with just the normal Rough Trade black cloth hanging behind them. They played Humanz from front to back (except the polarizing “Hallelujah Money”), and even brought out a few guests from the album, including Paven Evertt for “Strobelite,” Posdnuos of De La Soul for “Momentz,” Jamie Principle for “Sex Murder Party,” and Kali Uchis for “She’s My Collar.”

Albarn and the rest of the band were in great spirits, enjoying the intimacy of the evening, which allowed them to stare into the eyes of their fans (Albarn even took a hit from a blunt a fan was smoking in the middle of a song) as they ripped through the party anthems of the new album. They really seemed to enjoy playing these new songs, which made for a great disparity in the encore, which featured old staples, “Last Living Souls,” “Kids With Guns,” and of course, “Clint Eastwood.” There were some issues and stop starts with them, but once they got going, the crowd properly lost their mind. For “Clint Eastwood” Albarn asked for a fan who knew Del The Funky Homosapien’s verse to come up and join them, and picked a young lady who actually did resemble Noodle – one of the bands animated characters- and even put on red sunglasses almost recreating the Humanz album art. She apparently was tripping, and tried to deliver the goods as promised, but she really wasn’t heard, but thankfully the crowd did their duty and took over the song, turning the somewhat awkward situation into something memorable.

It was quite a wild 24 hours waiting in the cold to see the band, and who can say a wait like that is ever truly worth it, but I guess the best way to measure that is asking if I’d do it again: Yes, in a heartbeat.

Enjoy some more subpar iPhone shots posted below, along with the setlist:

Gorillaz Setlist:

1. Ascension
2. Strobelite (with Peven Everett)
3. Saturnz Barz
4. Momentz (with Posdnuos of De La Soul)
5. Submission
6. Charger
7. Andromeda
8. Busted and Blue
9. Carnival
10. Let Me Out
11. Sex Murder Party (with Jamie Principle)
12. She’s My Collar (with Kali Uchis)
13. We Got the Power


14. Last Living Souls
15. Kids With Guns
16. Clint Eastwood

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[…] The craziness that was sleeping on the side of the street to see them at Rough Trade. […]


[…] Records/Warner Bros. Records). We caught them a few times last year, first at their surprise Rough Trade NYC show, then at the Festival Pier at Penns Landing in Philadelphia, and then a final bout at the Meadows […]


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