On the Scene: Peter Bjorn and John at Roseland Ballroom
This was a pretty big show for a could-be one-hit wonder. Peter Bjorn and John’s whistle-fueled “Young Folks” is by far the most ubiquitous song to come out of indie rock in ages, easily the biggest since Modest Mouse’s 2004 breakthrough “Float On.” It’s the kind of song that inspires covers from Kanye West and obscure Japanese folkies alike (Shugo Tokumaru’s version is currently a top 10 hit in Japan), not to mention hopeless devotion from anybody with ears. They’ve even whistled their way to a Best New Artist nomination at this weekend’s VMAs, which they’ll blogging about right here next week.
But you can’t just play your best song all night, and the question was, what would PB&J do for the rest of their set last night at Manhattan’s cavernous Roseland Ballroom? The answer, apparently, was to sound like Oasis. The audience — a crowd of young folks themselves (I’d be shocked if anyone was over 30) — cheered loudly for “Amsterdam,” but didn’t seem particularly excited for any of the other tunes. And no wonder: If the band (pictured at Roseland, with guest Nicole Atkins) didn’t have “Young Folks” and weren’t from Sweden, they’d probably be written off as a slightly-above-average Britpop band. Still, they had stage presence and energy for miles and ran through their set on sheer exuberance — and when they inevitably played “Young Folks,” the Ballroom turned into an enormous impromptu indie dance party.
addCredit(“Peter Bjorn and John: Henry S. Dziekan III / Retna Ltd.”)
Opening act the Clientele didn’t fare as well, plagued by some soundissues (frontman Alasdair Maclean’s guitar was barely audible for thefirst few songs) and a chatterbox crowd that was more interested intaking pictures of themselves on their iPhones than listening to theband’s exquisite melancholy. This, despite opening with “Since K GotOver Me,” a truly fantastic song that’s on par with “Young Folks,” ifnot as instantaneously catchy. In 2002, Peter (or Bjorn? Could’ve beenJohn) noted that they’d opened for the Clientele in Sweden, a fact thatMaclean bemoaned during his band’s set: “Where did they go right?”Sounds like a question for you, P-Dubs! Are you tired of “Young Folks”or does it still have you whistling while you work?