Armed with the most popular song to feature whistling as its primary instrument since "Wind of Change," Sweden's Peter Bjorn & John tromped into the First Avenue Mainroom last night and introduced the packed house to the rest of their songs, some of which are actually quite good.
In fact, even the opening acts were delightful tonight, a rare treat at a First Avenue show. First up was Brooklyn's Au Revoir Simone, a three-keyboard act whose lush pop harmonies melted more than a few hearts in the crowd. Of course, the fact that the group is made up of three young women who could easily can this whole music thing for careers in modeling certainly didn't hurt. The only thing more precious than their matching bangs was the fact that they sing a super-sad song titled "Sad Song."
Next came Fujiya & Miyagi, the British nu-disco trio that seeks to answer the question, how many Euro-loungy electro songs with whispered, monotone vocals can you stand? Quite a few, turns out. There's just something about a Brit saying "Sock it to me" all sexy-like over a groovy bass line to get bodies moving. It wasn't exactly a deodorant commercial on the dance floor, but our elbows weren't stuck to our ribs, either.
Then, with a sitar version of their mega-hit "Young Folks" teasing the crowd into a mild frenzy, Peter Bjorn & John took to the stage. The sleek, sans serif type on the banner behind them smacked of minimal Scandinavian design, and lead singer (Peter) and bassist (Bjorn) sported matching moppy haircuts and Rickenbacker guitars, further emphasizing the show's aura of European invasion. At least they looked like Rickenbackers—maybe they were Fenders. I tried to ask the dude next to me, but he just jumped up and down and shouted, "I love this song!"
The song in question was "Objects of My Desire," from PB&J's new album Writer's Block." The drummer—who by process of elimination we learned was named John—was especially flashy, twirling his sticks and rocking his stripped-down kit like a latter-day Keith Moon. The ruckus was as unexpected as it was enjoyable, since the group is known more for chill, down-tempo tunes like "Young Folks" and "Amsterdam."
Of course, everyone in the crowd was waiting for "Young Folks," and they were finally treated to it about 45 minutes into the set when Peter called the group's British bus driver onstage to provide the telltale bongo beat. A few months ago, when they performed the song on Conan, PB&J caused a small stir among music bloggers when they pulled a Ashley Simpson and lip-synced the song's whistle melody. I'm pleased to report that no such travesty occurred last night. Peter—along with the entire audience—whistled the catchy little number in grand fashion, and it's been ringing in my ear ever since.