Peter Bjorn & John @ the Wiltern, 9.17.07
The way I see it, when it comes to good bands, you're either visionary without a whole lot of talent (the Sex Pistols, the Unicorns, Young Marble Giants, even the Velvet Underground, I suppose), or a very talented and tight band without a whole lot of vision (most metal groups, the majority of the dance-punk folks, maybe some math rockers), or -- and this is the tough one -- a combination of the two.
Now, this is a subjective sliding scale I'm talking about here, so don't call me out on it, but I think you get the point. Ian Curtis was never a good singer, and Peter Hook not much of a bass player at the time Joy Division graced this world, but boy were they visionary. Pavement's first album was a sonic masterpiece, overflowing with creativity and bursting at the seams with grungy, relaxed hooks. And hey, everyone always says that Nirvana wasn't all that great musically, but Cobain's lyrics killed.
Peter Bjorn & John (MySpace) seem to have hit on that combined greatness sweat spot pretty damn well. Not only are these harmless Swedish guys introducing new, sparse, yet super hooky production techniques, reassessing and revamping the duet, replacing the cowbell with a worthwhile substitute (the bongo!), and justifying the tidal wave of Swedish bands that have arrived on our shores, they're, maybe most importantly, bringing solid, good pop music to our ears in a major way.
The show at the Wiltern (essentially the biggest venue for an "indie" band in L.A.) was phenomenal. John had reunited with Peter and Bjorn for this show (he was unable to be here last time), and they just let it loose! Every song was tinkering with and explored the the greatest extent possible, no stray notes and wrong keys were landed, and the interdynamics of the trio were truly mind-boggling. It was almost like seeing a jazz group play or something. John nodding off to Peter and Bjorn, Peter leading on the crowd while simultaneously feeding off the instant feedback and then divulging us all with quasi-solos and deeper musical investigations of every single one of their perfect pop songs.
It was very, very good. Check out a slideshow of the photos I took after the jump or just get 'em all here