PETER BJORN AND JOHN SECRET SHOWS (+ PHOTOS)
What comes to mind when you hear the phrase, “House Party?” Hmmm…beer on ice…guys…girls…music…good times…and that 1990s movie with Kid and Play. You do not, however, think of an appearance by Peter, Bjorn and John. Well, thanks to Sean Carlson and FYF—there was not one, but two super secret house parties featuring P,B and J, as well as The Lovely Bad Things, Devin Therriault and the So So Glos.
With all the planning of a military operation, the FYF team orchestrated two killer secret shows. The first being at what is referred to as The Lovely Bad Pad on a quiet suburban street in La Mirada. The crowd was kept to a minimum and the lucky ones who milled into the xmas-lit garage, or more specifically, the semi sound proof rehearsal room, were in for a tight sweaty indie rock show. Devin Therriault and his band, who I had just seen perform at the Echoplex days earlier, jammed out their 1950s style rock with a “Wild Ones” abandon and The Lovely Bad Things churned out their surf pop / post punk to a dancing, head bopping tightly packed crowd. I did a double take when I saw Peter Morén from P, B and J packed in like a sardine, head bobbing to The Lovely Bad Things as well. That is when I realized, “Hey, Peter, Bjorn and John are really going to play in this garage.”
And play they did although at times I think even they didn’t believe it. I apologize in advance for butchering the names of these Swedish towns. This is the banter before the first song:
Peter: “Hallo. Thanks for having us. I played in a basement in Naatka once. It’s a suburb of Taakal but I haven’t played here in a garage.”
Bjorn: (looking up at the packed rafters)- “What’s up there?”
Peter: “Bjorn played drums at that gig actually…the basement in Naatka. Do you remeber that?”
Bjorn: (pause) “No.”
The audience, myself included, was cracking up. I loved these guys from the get go. They were very funny and sweet. Then they proceeded to rock the “skit” out of that tiny room, mostly playing brand new songs. They played a nice long set and probably would have played more had it not been for the fact that we were all sweating up a storm from all the body heat. Seeing Peter, Bjorn and John in the confines of that garage rehearsal room was an awesome (albeit a little surreal) experience.
Being the down to earth and cool chaps they are, they hung out and met with their adoring fans, took pics and all. Then it was time for Secret Show 2.
FYF announced the location for the 12 pm show at 9pm. The party would continue at a warehouse space in the fashion district of L.A. After passing through security I headed up about 6 flights of stairs to a large open room like a large New York city flat. In fact, the guys from Brooklyn-based Devin Therriault said this space made them feel the most at home. Factory style glass-paned windows flanked one side of the room and couches on the other and a motorcycle was parked near the back wall. The “stage” area was backdropped by those factory paned glass and white Christmas lights cascaded from the ceiling into glass bottles turning them into light bulbs. The people cascading into the room looked somewhat less suburban than those at the La Mirada house. Maybe it was because it was a more urban crowd or maybe it was just that it was a late night crowd but it looked like a hipster heaven. The room was dressed up and ready to party Swedish style. Drinks and conversation filled the room and the room was buzzing for live music.
By the time The Lovely Bad Things strapped on their guitars, the room was pretty densely packed. Their brief 3 song set was loose and fun—and varied from the garage show hours earlier. The guitarist pushed into the crowd a couple of times, spurning them to mosh, and while they simply chose to dance or move to the music, they enjoyed the invitation and pushed him back. The Lovely Bad Things all switched instruments and lead vocals, shifting tones in keeping with that surf power pop/garage rock vibe. The audience ate it up and begged for one more song. TLBT’s re-strapped on the guitars, asked for a request and fans responded with “Big Sur.” They tore into the wave crashing song that has guitar flashes of Dick Dale and the Deltones (on steroids).
After a quick gear change, the boys from Sweden took their place amidst the white xmas lights. Peter took to the mic and said: “Good evening, welcome to Sweden,” and launched into “Second Chance”—a power pop treat with dramatic downbeats. I actually prefer this live version to the studio version. Next, “Dig a Little Deeper”—a super catchy bit of pure pop. Fueled on by an ecstatic audience (amidst the hoops and hollas, a girl near me said to her friend: “I’m poopin’ in my pants right now”), P, B and J continued to perform songs off their new release Gimme Some. Peter’s guitar work live has got more “ooomph” than on the CD and seeing him pick off the catchy guitar strains to “Eyes” was a treat. The boys stirred the pretty pop power ballad “Down Like Me” into an emotional mix as Bjorn climbed atop his amp and Peter played an evocative lead that got the crowd screaming with delight. Before the applause subsided they transitioned into the locomotive rhythm of “I know You Don’t Love Me”—a hypnotic slow burn that would, unfortunately, be the last song of their set. I just love the brilliant sustain notes on this song. The song cooked along, eventually erupting into whirlwind of guitars, heavy drums and vocals. WOW. It was a wonderful climax to an inspired performance. As incredible as the “garage” show was, Peter, Bjorn and John played with even more zeal at this late show. It was as if they were feeding off the buzz in the room that they created in the first place. It was apparent that they were all fully in the zone and we were damn lucky to witness it in such an intimate setting. A totally great performance.
Again, the chaps hung, drank and were merry. And they graciously did the picture thing with some fans.
Following Peter, Bjorn and John is not an enviable position but Devin Therriault brought all barrels and got the girls dancing. Do you know how hard it is to get hipsters to dance? (I kid.) Actually, if you don’t move to his songs you may be dead. Call me crazy but I hear a certain testosterone fueled homage to rock of old like Jerry Lee Lewis or Elvis or Buddy Holly but done up in his own way. Devin and his band will be at the upcoming South By South West music festival.
Another Brooklyn based band of brothers, the So So Glos, finished out the evening. If you have not heard their punk rock, please check them out. Their hybrid of punk throws in doses of electro sounds and jangly guitar. They have a decidedly British punk sound ala the Clash, (but not), with wonderful downbeats punctuated by piercing guitar leads. No one is doing this kind of jag as good as the So So Glos. As I listened to them jam I was longing for my old Doc Martens. It is a shame they could not play longer.
A wonderful night was had by all. As always, Sean kept things tight and orderly. Except for the kid that had too much to drink and was picking fights in the street, it was a totally “asshole” free night. In fact, everyone I met was cool and genuine, making this a night I will not easily forget.
NOTE: My apologies to the So So Glos for not including pics. It was a long day and I burned through the camera battery and had no back up.