Peter Bjorn and John, El Perro del Mar
House of Blues
November 14, 2009
Better than: slogging through my DVR.
"This is Dallas, right?" Bjorn Yttling asked, his porn 'stache bobbing above the microphone. "Maybe you know him from your school. Or your dad's school. Do you know Meat Loaf?"
Yttling explained to a puzzled audience at the House of Blues the Peter Bjorn and John song "4 Out of 5" was inspired by Meat Loaf, who hails from Dallas. OK, fair enough. But Mr. Loaf disappeared off the pop culture radar about 15 years ago. God love Bjorn for attempting to bond with the locals.
With this quickie U.S. tour, Peter, Bjorn and John is celebrating Yttling, Peter Morén and John Eriksson's first jam session a decade ago in Stockholm. The Swedish trio was here just a few months ago opening for Depeche Mode, but this time around the band headlined, with opening act El Perro del Mar, featuring a leggy blonde singer and a fellow Swede who zipped through her set Saturday night like she had somewhere else to be.
For the most part, Peter, Bjorn and John's success in the U.S. is based on the popularity of "Young Folks," the infectious pop hit that evolved into the band's "Freebird." In the year after "Young Folks" debuted on 2006's Writer's Block, it spread like a virus across the Internet and on American radio and television, relentlessly popping up on sexy soaps like Grey's Anatomy and Gossip Girl. But the band didn't save "Young Folks" for the encore--a hint, perhaps, that the Swedes might be ready for fans to move on.
Still, that's what people came to hear. Energy was highest during "Young Folks," when a guy from Georgia was invited on stage to whistle with Morén, who jumped around like a cheerleader in suspenders and white tennis shoes.
The band included the best cuts from its fifth and most recent album, Living Thing, including "Nothing to Worry About" and the keyboard driven, New Wave leftover "It Don't Move Me." A baffling inclusion was the instrumental "Needles and Pills," which was enhanced by a guest trumpeter and a kazoo.
"If you have ear plugs, put them in," Peter said at that point.
As a whole, the band offers above-average European pop fare--the music is slick and fun, but, eventually, it'll be buried in the graveyard of your iTunes collection.
"This is the best-looking crowd we've seen so far," offered Yttling, who was outfitted in a suit and a Ron Jeremy mustache with a personality of its own.
But the concert seemed so...brief. Aside from "Object of My Affection," the encore was unremarkable. A disappointing omission was "Amsterdam," a key track from Writer's Block--and one the crowd made clear it wanted to hear.
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Alas, Peter, Bjorn and John were on and off the stage with plenty of time for the 17-year-olds with fake IDs to make it home by their midnight curfew.
Personal Bias: Kylee, my 22-year-old sister, was fascinated with Yttling's utter Europeanness--the 'stache, his Scandinavian drawl, the bizarrely funny hand motions and his version of the Robot. "This is more like a comedy show than a music show," she said.
By the Way: The crowd wasn't as big as previous HOB shows, including Thievery Corporation and Santigold. When I saw that the back bar in the main room was closed, I figured HOB was expecting a smaller turnout. They were right.