Do you have a band that somehow changed your perception of music? I remember falling off the face of popular music in middle school after discovering last.fm. I don’t really know how things happened, but I got sucked into the vortex of independent music more quickly than I would have thought possible. I’m not proud of some of my origins- I started with Oasis, moved to Muse, swung to Paolo Nutini… I made a quick pass by Mika (yeah, I was that guy). From there, things started to get really good, though.
Peter Bjorn and John were probably the first ‘this is really good!’ band that I ever listened to. “Young Folks” is enough to get anybody off their ass and into a sunshine mood. The album Writer’s Block was a significant brick in my musical foundation, and one that I am certainly proud of. On Friday of last week, I had the opportunity to see them live at Cat’s Cradle. I of course jumped on the chance!
Bachelorette opened for them, and I was sorely disappointed with her performance. She seemed like a delightful woman, and she was of course gorgeous like all Swedish women, but the performance went awry when she encountered technical issues. She was mixing from two Macbooks and experienced software problems at least four times in her short set. These always occurred mid-song, and she would just giggle and start over. Each time, I was pulled out of the beautiful layers she was setting into motion and forced to start over with her. I have explored her LPs more after seeing the show to see what her studio sound is, and I can only conclude that she was just having a bad night. Her pleasant air and eventually beautiful performance doesn’t erase the painful awkwardness that comes with seeing a musician fail on stage over and over and over again. Elaborate visuals were projected behind her that moved in synchronization with the music, but I couldn’t help but wonder why so much time was spent on arranging those when the sound itself wasn’t even correct…
Peter Bjorn and John absolutely shined. Somehow, my friend and I managed to find standing space at the front center of the stage. It was the most perfect spot that could be imagined. Peter, the lead vocalist, was one of the most energetic musicians that I have ever seen perform. He would constantly lean over us and rip on his guitar. His dance moves were beyond epic. The band members were extremely personal with the crowd, calling one fortunate soul on stage in the middle of the concert to receive a pat on the back from Peter. Peter grabbed a microphone half way through the show and jumped into the crowd. Yes, I did grab his back. I haven’t washed my hand since!
Peter Bjorn and John played two encores. On the first, the drummer (John) returned to the stage with a banana. He attempted to capture the sounds of him chewing it as he subtly mocked the organic smuggery that sometimes exists in Carrboro. The band played reworked songs from “Living Things,” explaining that they had to improvise as their synthesizers were too heavy to fly to America. The result was chilling and wonderful! In their second encore, the band played some old favorites like “Amsterdam” and a rousing rendition of “Young Folks” commenced by Peter on the harmonica. He moved to stage-right and again dove into the crowd. I didn’t see a single person not shaking their hips in the way that only good rock can make an entire audience do. The show was wonderful.
The band stayed after their performance to sign merchandise. I purchased a remix of the Writer’s Block album featuring such awesome tunes as “Sitar Folks” and a Girl Talk remix of “Let’s Call It Off.” Of course I got my vinyl sleeve signed by the band. The night was incredible and ended a wonderful week at Cat’s Cradle that was kicked into motion by Yelle Tuesday night. Concerts like this one remind me that music is my raison d’être. Keep your ears perked for an upcoming interview with Peter Bjorn and John on WKNC!