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Peter Bjorn and John Squeeze Strong New Song Into Ill-Fated SXSW Set

March 19, 2009 7:44 PM ET

To say Swedish trio Peter Bjorn and John experienced technical difficulties at Wednesday night's highly anticipated SXSW gig at Vice would be putting it a bit mildly. After what felt like the longest sound check ever, the band took the stage around 20 minutes late and promptly stopped playing because drummer John Eriksson's electronic kit was malfunctioning. You can watch the show's one bright spot above: "Lay It Down," the group's toughest-talking tune on their latest album, Living Thing, which includes a chant that could have been a motto for the night ("Hey! Shut the fuck up boy! You are starting to piss me off.")

The crowd was clearly hungry for the band's 2006 hit "Young Folks," a whistle-packed track that grabbed the attention of one Mr. Kanye West (who is rumored to be heading to Austin for a surprise gig this week). Eriksson whistled a different melody for a few moments to kill some time, but the band mostly appeared disinterested and disconnected from the audience — a shout of "Show me that you give a shit!" was later followed by boos as the band struggled to get a guitar working ("Boo for bad guitars," the band responded. Perhaps a language barrier was to blame?).

When they finally got a few grooves going, the tunes were spare, punctuated by moving basslines, a few keyboard plunks and the plinks and whams coming from the electronic drum set. They injected "Objects of My Affection" with a Morrissey-esque theatricality and a few jolts of harmony. Later, singer-guitarist-keyboardist Peter Morén ripped out a few guitar solos, but his body language seemed forced, like he was play-acting at being a rock star for a few brief moments — an observation mad all the more fitting when it became apparent the entire gig had been sponsored by the video game Rock Band.

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