Peter Bjorn & John @ Cake Shop, NYC 8/3/09

Thanks to all who came to our little “secret show” with Peter Bjorn & John last night. The idea was just to have an intimate show for the band’s family, friends, and the sort of fans that didn’t mind cramming in to see them in a sweaty basement on Ludlow Street at 1AM on a school night. But now we know exactly what it would be like to have PB&J as the band at a college house party. Which is to say, drunken and still somehow unforgettable.

The gig was a chance for the guys to let loose after one of their biggest shows yet, opening for Depeche Mode at Madison Square Garden earlier in the evening, so this wasn’t the place to hear “Young Folks.” Or many of the obligatory singles from their latest record (they did do “Living Thing” and “I’m Losing My Mind,” though) — it was a party first, a press/promotional opportunity last. Instead it was a place to hear rarities, like the first US live performance of “People They Know” from their 2002 self-titled debut (“We wrote this when we were younger and slightly pretentious”), or a string of songs from 2004’s Falling Out (“Far Away, By My Side,” “(I Just Wanna) See Through,” and the title track), or a bunch of covers they hadn’t played in years, like the Nerves’ “When You Find Out” and the Television Personalities’ 1981 jam “Silly Girl.”

Plus, no sequencers. No drum pads. It was John’s first time on a real kit in a year and a half, although it likely hadn’t been that long since Peter hopped on top of an amp and guitar hero-ed out. Björn kept telling us how much more fun it was than MSG, and how it was their most fun gig in years, which would have smacked of “what you’re supposed to say at a show like this” if it wasn’t obvious they were having one of their best nights in awhile. No doubt it was rough around the edges — words were forgotten, some jokes were like “whuuuut” — but that’s the charm of seeing a band that feels its playing for friends. We sang happy birthday to Peter’s mom who was in the Shop, said hello to Björn’s bro who was there too, and nobody minded when Yttling unplugged the Christmas lights which essentially illuminated the entire room because it was just that sorta night. Last song? “Up Against The Wall.” Pretty fun. Big thanks to PB&J for a special evening. Photographer Jessica Amaya captured some the night in some sweet photos. Please enjoy.