“This is a wild time for us. It’s been three years since we’ve played together and five years since we’ve played the states. So, we’re bound to be a little rusty, but this is going to be a fun night nevertheless,” said singer and guitarist Peter Moren of the Swedish indie-pop band Peter Bjorn and John. Flanked by his long-time buds bassist Bjorn Yttling and drummer John Eriksson, as well as an additional keyboardist and a backing percussionist and guitarist, the band cleared those cobwebs out in truly epic fashion for a very intimate show at Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn. This was their second of two NYC shows, after their performance at Rough Trade Records the night before, to start off their brief US crossing to celebrate the release of their sixth studio effort Breakin’ Point out this June. They did have a new seven inch single on hand of the title track and a non-album b-side for sale at the merch table, and from the sound of it, these three still have all the brilliance for composing layered, catchy, and endlessly cool pop they ever did, and more.
Opening the show was New York-based Norwegian artist Okay Kaya who played a solo spot with just a guitar and a truly ethereal voice. Her lyrics can be dark and bitter, but the delicate harmonies often make you feel as though you’re drifting through a lucid dream. Her stage presence was shy and introverted, but no one could deny her songs had a serious presence. I especially liked when she broke into some Norwegian vocals, as her voice made it all feel so spacious, comforting, and exotic yet intimate. She had already more or less left the stage without really telling the audience she was done, but it was clear most of the crowd was hungry to hear more.
So, it has been five years since Peter Bjorn And John had played to any great extent, but it felt like they hadn’t taken any time off at all. With around 16 years of playing together, they still feel like they have their whole expertly enjoyable “let’s party” thing down. Clearly, they had practiced quite a bit before going out, but there were a couple of spots when they had were a bit nervous and unsure, like when performing a new track called “In This Town” for the first time and they had a false start. Nevertheless, they showed how much of continuous pros they were by shaking it off and having a great time bouncing about and creating a general party atmosphere. Peter is just so amazingly charismatic as he is what seems to be an endless source of unbridled energy, and he had this goofy and hilarious way of making you laugh with the crowd.
Their sound has always been a magical experience for me, as they are just so consistently great. They’ve never released a bad album, which is a rare feat for any band after six discs, and they somehow just keep consistently getting better with each one. The catchiness of their songs knows no bounds, and they just bore into your mind until there’s never a way for them to get out. To me, their sound seems rooted in an early 90’s mélange, like if the shoegaze of The Stone Roses and Ride got jacked buy the indie harmonies of musical magicians like Nada Surf or Belle & Sabastian, like the perfect mixture of sparkly romanticism and danceable indie bubblegum pop. In the end, their music can always put you in a good mood, like the most excellent cup of coffee ever and make you want to dance and jump around, and that was exactly the tone that was set and achieved in excellent form this night.
They started off by playing what seemed to be their whole new album, all of which really sounded top notch. I especially liked “What You Talking About?” and “Dominoes,” both which had a real infectious or a down-right contagious feel about them. They did finish off their set by playing “Objects Of My Affection” from 2006’s mega-hit disc Writer’s Block and “I Know You Don’t Love Me” from their last LP Gimmie Some, which gave long time fans some nostalgia. Then, they launched into an extended encore of hits like “Dig a Little Deeper,” “Eyes,” and, of course, the mega hit “Young Folks” and even the ultimately bouncy guitar riff mastery of “Second Chance” to finish off everyone’s senses for good this night. I can’t wait to see them come back through for another marathon run.
Article: Dean Keim