The summer concert season is winding down here in New York. What that means is, I no longer have to take the long trek to New Jersey to see the major bands play the outdoor venues. Which now that I think about it doesn't really bother me to start with. You see I have always been a small venue type of concert-goer. Yes, my last article was about an amazing amphitheater in the mountains and yes I go to a lot of various amphitheaters all across the country. However, it is always the small 1000-1500 person venues that get me excited.
On this beautiful fall night in mid-September, a group of friends and I finish up our dinner at a sidewalk restaurant in the heart of New York city. Just a half a block away is the famous Webster theater. With its picture perfect marque, the focal point of this particular block of 11th street. I'll go into more about the awesomeness it is to see a show at Webster theater in a future post. But tonight is all about Peter, Bjorn, and John(PB&J).
PB&J is a Swedish trio who first formed in 1999 and are touring the United States this fall. Their 6th album was released over 5 years ago which means this tour is just because they enjoy playing for their fans. As soon as I walked into Webster hall that night there was a feeling to the room that it was going to be fun. I go to enough concerts to get a feel for the crowd pretty quickly after walking in. It's important for me to know the crowd because I need to know how easy I am going to be able to move around to get the pictures I need. This is why reading the crowd is normally the very first thing I do when I get to the show. This crowd was so chill and relaxed, everyone was having fun and smiling it was a great feel and site, especially for a mid-week show.
PB&J took the stage just after 10 pm and the audience erupted in cheers. The stage lighting is dark and mainly back lite casting shadows of the band members across the crowd. Their sound is tight from the first cord. These guys have been playing together for a while and you could tell. More than watching a concert I felt I was watching a silhouettes show. The lights never really came up at the front of the stage which left the band in the shadows for most all of the set. As a photographer this sucked! However, if you were there purely for the music it was great as there was nothing to take your focus away from the songs themselves. No fancy lasers or elaborate light show to draw your focus. Just the band belting out tune after tune. If you were there to see the band themselves, you were for the most part out of luck. While strange for some I felt the band took a big risk in playing a mainly dark show. They are in essence saying "Our Music stands on its own"
PB&Js lyrics are not just a hodgepodge of mangled up words wrapped with a pop beat. Each song's lyrics flow and tell a story of the band's feelings at the time it was written. This band has reinvented its sound more times over the years than just about any band I have written about. It's almost like they were channeling their inner Beatles with the number of times they have branched out and risked a new sound or feel on an album. They have done it well and have weathered the years as a band and put on a great show this particular evening. The mood in the room only became more chill and mellow as the band worked its way down the evening's set list. Closing the show on a high that had the fans in a frenzy singing along to their biggest hits from their 3rd album which set them off on their first mainstream stride which was also first minor international hit. Most people will recognize the song "Second Chance" as the theme song for the CBS sitcom 2 broke girl and the song was used in a popular Bud Light commercial. The fans loved every minute of it and left the venue feeling fulfilled and grateful for a great performance.
All in all, it was another great evening of awesome music in an awesome venue. I would recommend checking out PB&J the next time they come through your town.
Words & Images by : Dan "Nubbs" Sugrue