Peter Bjorn and John
All You Can Eat Tour
Friday, September 23, 2011
Better Than: Fancy food and show tunes.
All hopped up on carbohydrates, squeezed into their best mature and sexy hipster gear, and still stuffed full of gourment grilled cheese, several hundred music-and-munchie fanatics flocked to Bardot last night for endless helpings from the sonic smorgasbord otherwise known as Peter, Bjorn, and John's All You Can Eat tour.
Initially, we here at Crossfade had intended to gorge ourselves on Pop Rocks-encrusted foie gras, fill our skulls with PB&J's fat sounds, and bring back 30 hot pics worth of food-and-tuneage porn. But unfortunately, thanks to Bardot's superstrict photo policy, our slideshow photographer wasn't allowed to do her job. She was barred from taking snapshots of the show, even though we had made early, concrete arrangements with the band's PR people. Why? No reason, except to preserve the club's air of "exclusivity" and "privacy." In the blogging game, we commonly refer to that sort of situation as pure bullshit.
Earlier in the day, though, Peter, Bjorn, and John had put egalitarian ideals into practice by teaming up with Eater Miami to give away free food truck grub to the Magic City's famished indie music fans. The instructions: Memorize a secret code ("Gimme some grilled cheese") and show up to Coconut Grove's Mayfair Shops at precisely 3 p.m. begging for gooey fried goodness. Within a half-hour, the chosen mobile eatery -- Ms. Cheezious, "the sexiest food truck in Miami" -- had been completely ransacked of all complimentary sandwich-and-soda combos.
PB&J's live All You Can Eat experience, meanwhile, had been sold out for weeks. And there was no cutesy secret code that could get you past Bardot's doorman. You needed a ticket. Or you needed to know a person in power with enough sway to get your name on that special guestlist, certifying your status as a Very Important Person.
By 9:45 p.m., the swank and slouchy N. Miami Avenue speakeasy was packed to capacity as the opening band, Brooklyn's Dinosaur Feathers, tossed off a few final minutes of worldly indie spazziness. The club was getting loud, enthusiastic, and slightly drunk ... Twentysomething dudes in top hats sucked down double Old Fashioneds. A bearded roadie type two-fisted silver cans of Sapporo. And sugardaddies fed their babies with fake boobs flute after flute of pink champagne.
A little less than an hour later - 10:42 p.m., to be exact -- Peter, Bjorn, and John were led to Bardot's stage (i.e. a giant oriental carpet laid in the middle of the floor) by a private bouncer in a Celine Dion t-shirt while their native country's royal blue and golden yellow flag was projected onto the wall above a mess of musical gear.
Dressed in stylishly rumpled, neutral-color suits with a week's facial growth creeping across their cheeks, the Swedish threesome wound through the mob from the front door, around a pool table covered with empty drinks, and straight across the tiny VIP area, snatching up guitar, bass, and drumsticks for a quick sprint through a couple of tracks ("Tomorrow Has to Wait" and "Eyes") off their new record Gimme Some, and one ("Let's Call It Off") from 2006's beloved Writer's Block.
During every mini-intermission as PB&J made the transition into their next song, a disclaimer was projected onto that wall space above them. It read: "This is a Peter, Bjorn, and John concert," followed by, "This is the default 'between song' screen. While they talk and say funny stuff."
During PB&J's actual songs, though, an amusingly absurd assortment of pictures (a Condiment Gun, Swedish soccer snapshots, professional pictures of bread, etc.) and generally random video clips (high-speed cop chases, Bjorn Borg and Jimmy Connors battling it out at Wimbledon, the food fight scene from Animal House, etc.) provided some post-postmodern multimedia accompaniment to the music.
Wrapping up "It Don't Move Me," the trio settled into one of those momentary, intertrack lulls while the "between song" screen loomed in the background. A few seconds passed. The crowd buzzed. And then guitar guy and lead vocalist Peter, speaking with a pronounced Swedish lilt, explained that the next cut, "Dig a Little Deeper," was going to be a sing-along. But before ripping right into it, we all needed to learn how to properly perform this particular pop tune. And so he instructed us to sing, "Loud! Enthusiastic! And slightly drunk!" The mob fully complied.
Another moment of band-crowd interaction came a couple of songs later when Peter wandered offstage with a harmonica and cord-bound microphone for "Nothing to Worry About," stumbling through the center of the audience and eventually crouching atop the bar beside spilled drinks and giddily wasted food-and-tuneage fans. He riffed funky mouth-organ parts, jumped on tables in triumph, clambered awkwardly over furniture, and hugged audience members.
The communal action continued with PB&J's supersweet 2006 indie superhit and inevitable high point "Young Folks." In a moment of instant recognition, every corner of the crowd was inspired to engage in all kind of ecstatic behavior -- jumping jacks, pogoing, rampantly off-key whistling. And then, still riding that high, Peter led the audience through an "Objects of My Affection" clap-a-thon before closing the show with a nice little lullaby called "Down Like Me."
But that wasn't the definitive end of this All You Can Eat love-in ... Peter, Bjorn, and John said goodbye, left the same way they arrived, and escaped out onto the sidewalk, only to be ambushed by a small group of fans demanding polite chit-chat and Facebook photos.
Nice guys all night, PB&J smiled and said, "Yes!"
The Crowd: Cheese eaters and pop junkies getting loud, enthusiastic, and slightly drunk on command.
Personal Bias: My girlfriend likes PB&J better than I do.
Surprise of the Night: Yeah, these dudes are noted for pure pop perfection. But (sorta) surprisingly, they're just as unbelievably pinpoint precise in concert as they are on record.
Random Detail: Did we mention Crossfade got screwed out of a photo slideshow? That's right ... We're still bummed.
Peter, Bjorn, and John's Setlist
-"Tomorrow Has to Wait"
-"Let's Call It Off"
-"It Don't Move Me"
-"Dig a Little Deeper"
-"Nothing to Worry About"
-"May Seem Macabre"
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-"Objects of My Affection"
-"Down Like Me"