Did I go to the Peter Bjorn and John show only knowing their 2006 hit "Young Folks?" Yes. However, I was reminded of them when I had seen they had released their 8th studio album "Darker Days" and many good things were being said about it. So I thought I'd catch up with what they were up to.
At 8:30pm, opening act Talos arrived on stage with three supporting musicians. I thought Talos was the band, but after some internet research, Talos is a solo act, Eoin French. His set began in their silhouettes and synths that sounded like what most people associate with "space" sounds. Very atmospheric with soft electronic beats. Talos sung lightly with high notes and quite emotionally. His Irish accent was evident in his singing. He'd introduce his songs in a humble manner. Later into his set, the soft songs came to a gradual stop as the fourth track was building up with stronger percussions, like what I imagined to be deep Viking drumming. At one point, a song was starting once again in soft synths, but a thrash of a guitar added a dash of contrast. The lead guitarist was using a violin bow to create distortion in an explosive climax. A loud applause was given to the epic ending.
9:30 rolled around and Peter, Bjorn, and John arrived on stage bursting in energy for their song "Let's Call It Off" off of their 2006 album "Writer's Block." Their harmonies are a perfected craft. Peter was jumping with his guitar at any moment he wasn't singing. Bjorn also took moments to hop to the edge of the stage to have a moment to play the guitar in the spotlight. The audience was softly bobbing along and few were cheering when the older hits were played. They introduced a couple song by saying "this one is from 2004." After a few older hits, they got into their new material with "Gut Feeling" and "Living a Dream" which still had their folksy quirks, but "Sick & Tired" especially had a blues attitude with a defined guitar riff. When they had a moment to talk, Bjorn said that they felt pressured for time because they had a curfew so he couldn't "stretch the shit out of his guitar solos". He also said since that show was their only Canadian show on their tour, they had issues getting their merch over the border so he said he "can sign shoes after the show." He mentioned too that he they are grateful to keep coming to crowds in so many cities around the world and that he recognizes some faces in the crowd. A surprise they had was during one of the last songs, was when Peter jumped into the crowd and continued on with a guitar solo. Bjorn then commanded him and the crowd around him to "get down" so Peter's guitar volume lowered as he bent down and crowd followed. The song built back up and everyone jumped in unison. A great interactive touch. Once they ended what seemed to be the last song, the audience demanded an encore instantly and they came back in less than a minute, pressured by the 11pm curfew. They opened the encore with "Big Black Coffin" which one guy was ecstatic about, "YES!" he exclaimed. Then onto the song we all know, "Young Folks." In the first verse Peter told everyone to put their iPhones down, not an uncommon comment from an artist. Most people were found singing the one hit wonder.
Sometimes it's good to check up on "that one band that had that one song that one time ten years ago." If one song is a banger, there must be plenty more. PB&J, gave more energy and versatility than I anticipated from an indie folk band. Their imprint on that genre will always be a staple. Check out their new record "Darker Days."