Rather than rocking out at the canceled 2020 Reading and Leeds festival this past weekend, IDLES found a different way to perform, doing three live sets from London’s Abbey Road Studios uploaded to spniismusicposts’ YouTube. They played several new songs from their upcoming album Ultra Mono, as well a few covers, including The Strokes’ “Reptilia.”
The British punk rock band transitioned the song into a metal tune. Louder and heavier sounding, the cover takes away the melodic guitar harmonies which are so iconic of the original. “Reptilia” is recognizable for its opening guitar riffs, something IDLES saw fit to gloss over in their punk cover.
But their recreation of the chorus makes up for the rough opening verse. Singer Joe Talbot uses his voice to bring out the melody of the song, while the guitar and bass crash in the background. This is a stark contrast to the guitar in the original song that lifts up Julian Casablancas’s voice.
This tactic never would’ve worked for The Strokes, but is fitting for a hardcore rendition. Talbot’s gritty screaming vocals gives new meaning to the line “you sound so angry, just calm down.” The band also creates pared-down pre-chorus sections with only Talbot’s voice with a percussive drum backing. This adds notable depth to the cover.
Although the performance is a bit rough at times, it has a truly live feel. A perfectly refined performance may have lost what made the cover feel real. The substantial instrumental outro of the song is a great blending of the IDLES sound with The Strokes’ original song. It’s obvious the band has fun performing this masterful instrumental mash-up. And the abrupt ending is always a sexy touch.
See more great covers of The Strokes here.