Concert Reviews

Peter Bjorn and John with Talos at The Velvet Underground

Mark this one down as a first for me: first concert I’ve been to on crutches! I broke my foot a few weeks ago, but I wasn’t about to let that keep me away from these Swedish gentleman and their Irish friends. And they did not disappoint. Now, maybe it was the fact that I was stuck in the back and mostly stationary, but it also ended up being a very curious and interesting evening, full of surprises.

The first surprise of the night was Talos, a band best described as an atmospheric experience. This surprise came in two ways. First, it was some of the best post-rock (arguably) I’d ever heard, with a sound not so dissimilar from Bon Iver or Sigur Ros but with all of the intensity of Explosions in the Sky at their peak.The second surprise was having this sound open for a band like Peter, Bjorn and John – for a minute, I had to wonder whether I’d stepped into the right venue. It was great, but it felt… weird. This was just the start.

When Peter Bjorn and John graced the stage, I was instantly intrigued: this was my first PB&J (I know, best initials ever) show and I was taken aback by how incredibly casual and friendly these dudes were. They had that perfect amount of genuine awkwardness that made them so approachable and fun, which I don’t often see with a band that’s been around as long as they have. It felt like I was watching three teenagers playing a show out of their garage – earnest, passionate, and full of weird anecdotes and jokes that they never quite finished. It was… a surprise.

As the show went on, it felt like watching a movie play out. The main characters of this movie, a handful of shy, reserved Swedes playing a show in their parents basement suddenly found new footing in the world of live music for real audiences. It was a slow transition, but all of a sudden I looked around and was surprised to realize the whole room was filled with a stupendous energy. The source was clearly the band – Peter and Bjorn had become lions, ferocious, attacking every note and pushing the music to the limits of its intensity (unfortunately, due to my injury, I was unable to find a position from which I could see John, but I assume he was equally consumed). “Teen Love” was about where this really peaked, and suddenly I realized what was happening: the movie was approaching it’s climax.

The last few songs were, appropriately, climactic. The big jam to close out “Never be Found” was especially memorable. Of course, the band’s biggest hit, “Young Folks”, was saved for the encore, after another lovely surprise, “Big Black Coffin”, a gentle jam from their 2005 record Falling Out. Maybe it was because everything else that had been weird and offbeat all night, but it didn’t even surprise me when Peter came in too early on one of the verses and got cut off by his own whistling track. It just added another layer of endearment for our protagonists. When Peter came out into the audience during “Up Against the Wall” the movie suddenly became a 4D epilogue, and the movie came to it’s satisfying with credits roll conclusion with the banger “Lies”.

If you instead stayed in and watched a movie on Netflix, you missed out. This movie was much better, and who knows when it’ll be playing in town again?