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Peter and Bjorn, Black Kids Close Out CMJ

‘Save the best for last’: a classic mantra that held its ownSaturday night (Oct. 20) as weary and musically boggled concertgoersemerged for one last event in the CMJ arsenal: Spin magazineand Musebox’s late night party at Williamsburg, Brooklyn’s GalapagosArt Space. Featuring a rapid fire artist showcase allowing each bandfour to five songs, the chiefly invite only event — some 100 guestspots were reserved for RSVP independents — drew a fervent crowd,which wrapped around the block as fans hoped to nestle up inside theintimate venue for sets from buzz bands like Morning State, Zambri, Black Kids and one very special secret guest, later revealed as Peter and Bjorn of Swede sensations Peter Bjorn and John. And for those who entered, Spin and Musebox’s CMJ capstone event was one long, sweet kiss goodbye to the music filled week.

As a few hundred youthful tastemakers buzzed about, the black curtains snapped back and Atlanta’s Morning Statetook the stage. The four plain dudes’ presence on stage in one of thehippest clubs in one of New York City’s hippest neighborhoods was asore thumb amidst the fashionable crowd, and thankfully the band’smusic followed in suit: unpretentious, straight forward, hook ladenrock. Rolling through their four-song set with numbers like “Fanatic”and “Fall Asleep,” the quartet capped with “Spectacular,” shredding outits inventive structures and recalling the pop-minded, guitar-centricrockers of Foo Fighters’ 1997 self-titled debut. The band’suncontrived, shtick-less sonic was warmly welcomed.

Upon thecurtain’s closure, patrons returned to conversation and drinking as aclamor of stray instruments cooked backstage for the next band’s set.And some 15 minutes later, the veil uncovered Zambri, a NewYork-based quintet fronted by sultry songstresses Jessica Z and CristiJo Z Here, the selling point was contrary to the stage’s predecessors;80s-tinged, sleek New Order-esque riffs rose from guitarist Chris C’saxe as his lengthy locks attempted to escaped a hoodie sweatshirt,pulled tight over his head and face. “Aliens” featured the frontwomensexually shaking hips and shoulders while jumping from vocal key tokey, low ended belches to shrieking highs, bolstered at times withgrungy six-string accompaniment, while “God” showcased repeating,weaving vocals and an overall nu-metal sheen.

Though,at least at this point, most in attendance were aware of the identityof the evening’s secret special guests Peter and Bjorn, the hype andcollective anticipation for blog buzz act Black Kids wasslightly overpowering. And when the Jacksonville, FL-based band finallytook the stage around 1:45 A.M., the southern fivesome validated thefuss. “Sorry,” frontman Reggie Youngblood said, bouncing his curly frofrom side to side, “I’m drunker than my stepfather right now.” Thecrowd voiced approval, and from there the outfit dove into an extendedset, rolling out with “Hit the Heartbreaks,” and its ’50s-influencedbop progressions and backing vocals iced with melodramatic synths andReggie’s brash catharsis. “I’ve Underestimated” and “Hurricane Jane”followed and Black Kids ended with “I’m Not Gonna Teach You…” asock-hopping number replete with unadorned riffs, bouncy synthstylings, and count off lyrics exploding in brother-sisterdeclarations: “I’m Not Gonna Teach You How To Dance, Dance, Dance.” AndBlack Kids’ instruction wasn’t necessary — the crowd willingly hit thefloor.

As the duo slipped away from the bar in the interim, astute observers realized the moment was upon us – Peter and Bjornwould soon hit the stage. The curtain split and the two Swedes, alongwith um, not John, were dressed characteristically — Bjorn sportingblack pants and black leather jacket while Peter donned a button up anda lengthy overcoat – and kicked into a loose version of “Lets Call itOff.” As more of a friendly garage jam session than a formal gig, Peterand Bjorn’s set saw a few pals visit the stage, including songstressLykke Li, who sang vocals on “Young Folks,” and Foreign Bornfrontman Matt W. Popieluch, who played bongos on the hit tune, which,despite criticism at other shows, actually featured live whistling.Tellingly, Peter ran out of breath.

Wall-o-fuzz track “Objectsof My Affection” followed and finally Peter and Bjorn capped theirbrief, casual performance with “Up Against the Wall,” inviting pal Boom Bipon stage to get granola and bang on the bongos. Conquering a fewtechnical problems, notably issues with his guitar strap, Peter jumpedto the venue’s floor, and surrounded by fans he proved his axe prowessby not missing a note, rocking through an extended version of the poppytrack. After all was said and done, Peter and Bjorn, fellow musicians,and fans aplenty joined at the bar in celebration of the past week, itsfinal closure, and plethora musical highlights. Cheers!