Saturday, May 16, 2009

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Peter Bjorn and John @ 9:30 Club, Washington DC

Posted: 16 May 2009 10:02 AM PDT

The last stop on their North American tour brought Peter Bjorn and John to the for a sold-out show featuring a longer-than-usual set. These three are probably some of the nicest and most charming men in rock, and took plenty of time to engage with the crowd and make the most of this final show. However, that all happened after openers Chairlift warmed the masses up nicely with around thirty minutes of pop sounds from the dreamier end of the 80s (which makes me wonder — how come most indie music I hear now reminds me of something from before?), including their iPod flogging track “Bruises”. That’s one of their more accessible tunes, their sound overall being slightly more avante-garde (I thought “Kate Bush” but that’s probably just me) but working well in the always-great setting and being received happily by the young and pretty indie kids in attendance.

PB&J didn’t make us wait too long before coming on to a cheeky backdrop that was made up of the word ‘backdrop’ (it looked cooler than it sounds), with lead singer Peter Morén chatting away enthusiastically from the off about how the current tour has been the best one yet, and that that’s saying a lot since they’ve been around for ten years. He also pleased the DC crowd by telling us that the is his favorite venue on the tour and PB&J are well chuffed to be finishing up there (oh c’mon Peter, I’m sure you say that to all the venues!). The band’s onstage performance matched these grinning sentiments, especially Morén’s, who didn’t seem to stay still at all during the entire show, spending much of it either dancing or jumping up and down or both — talk about stamina! Bassist Björn Yttling also got involved, albeit in a more low-key bass-playery way.


New songs such as “It Don’t Move Me” and “Nothing to Worry About” stood out with their bigger and more solid beats (it helped that Morén introduced them with “and now for some new songs!”). Some songs were re-worked, these nice Swedes turning “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” into much heavier tune — betraying the Scandinavian penchant for Black Sabbath riffs perhaps? Others were stretched out and skatted over and yet more got the crowd involved, collective hand-claps providing the intro and backing to “Objects of my Affection”. I have no idea if every show was like this or not (though I can easily believe that PB&J are this nice all the time), but this one was very fan-friendly, with constant thanks from Morén and shout-outs from Yttling.

Halfway through the band took the time to introduce us to, and thank, their roadies, crew and Chairlift, which was a touching touch. One roadie, Rolf, stayed on to dance, drink Red Stripe, and play bongos along to “Young Folks” — it was nice to see PB&J not underplay their breakthrough hit, but instead go all out and acknowledge the anticipation crowds always feel for the songs they all know. The dancing roadie and live bongos (which returned a few more times, played by another roadie and then by one of the Chairlifters) were pretty brilliant, Rolf out-Bezzing Bez with his bottle, shorts, and shades.

The band called it a night with a four song encore. PB&J masks were handed out before the band, joined on stage by Chairlift, the entire road crew, and probably many other people, launched into “Lay it Down”, everyone on-stage dancing around with their masks on before mass hugging ensued. It all ended with a grand rendition of “Up Against the Wall” that merged into the Roses‘ “I Wanna be Adored” and Joy Division’s “Transmission” — a final reference to the darker elements within PB&J’s music that are hidden beneath their sunny exteriors. Those sunny exteriors are what they brought to this show though; the chatting, dancing, and hugging adding up to a memorable experience that left us all with warm fuzzy feelings and comedy Peter Bjorn & John makes — can’t really ask for more than that.

Set List:
Just The Past
Start To Melt
It Beats Me Everytime
Don’t Move
Nothing To Worry About
Living Thing
Young Folks
I’m Losing My Mind
Let’s Call It Off
Objects of My Affection
Lay It Down
Stay This Way
Up Against The Wall

Peter Bjorn & John: website | myspace

Living Thing
Price: USD 10.99
59 used & new available from USD 4.07

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