I WAS THERE: Peter Bjorn and John Perform First ‘Living Thing’ Set For Parker Posey, Zach Condon and a Room of Heavily-Intoxicated Socialites

Peter Morén puts on his best Bogart imitation.
Peter Morén puts on his best Bogart imitation.

Text/Photos by Andrew Parks

Nothing against Peter Bjorn and John‘s decidedly ‘experimental’ new album (Living Thing, out March 31 through Almost Gold) or anything, but the high point of last night’s lavish W Hotel set wasn’t the galloping grooves of “It Don’t Move Me” or the spare, steely beats of “The Feeling.” It was the kick jumps and latent guitar heroism that propelled “Objects of My Affection,” a standout track from P B & J’s breakthrough album, 2006’s Writer’s Block. Aside from acting as a glaring reminder of the melancholic undercurrent that once fueled the trio’s more thrilling, and rewarding, tracks (see also: “Up Against the Wall,” “Let’s Call It Off,” “Chills”), it clearly woke the band up–their limbs were flailing like shock therapy patients throughout an extended take that lasted a good eight minutes.

While we can’t blame the boys for sounding chipper on their new one–being Kanye West’s backing band and playing a pricey corporate gig for socialites, Zach Condon of Beirut and such adoring celebs as Parker Posey and Julia Stiles should wipe the grimmace off anyone’s face–there’s something clinical about some of the band’s new songs. Two outstanding exceptions: the ecstatic children’s chorus and rubberized hooks of “Nothing To Worry About” and the bucephalus bouncing balls of the rather absurd “Lay It Down.”

Here’s what SXSW-ers can expect from the trio this week …

Peter Bjorn and John @ W Hotel, 3.17.09
Just the Past
It Don’t Move Me
Lay It Down
It Beats Me Every Time
I Want You!
Nothing to Worry About
Living Thing
I’m Losing My Mind
Objects of My Affection

Young Folks