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POP MUSIC REVIEW

OCPAC draw of PB&J a bit sticky

January 26, 2008|Chuck Mindenhall | Special to The Times

With the slogan "It's not what you'd expect," the Orange County Performing Arts Center's new Off Center indie-rock series kicked off Thursday with performances by Sweden's Peter, Bjorn and John and L.A.'s Sea Wolf. The series is meant to add a hipper element to the center's usual classical, jazz and cabaret fare. That is, to attract younger audiences, the kind that whistle along to the most ubiquitous foot-tapper of 2007, PB&J's appropriately titled "Young Folks."

The problem is, $7 beers and bar sushi aren't synonymous with indie-pop bands and their fans. That the audience remained gawker-still during the opening whistling sequence of the very song that drew them there was, for reasons never intended, not what you'd expect.

Before the show, sponsors, staff members and concertgoers in their 20s and 30s filled the Samueli Theatre's lobby with reception chatter. There were flat-panel screens announcing Off Center concerts with the Walkmen and the Cold War Kids, among others.

Inside the 500-capacity theater, an elegant room with intimate proximity to the stage no matter where you're situated, there was considerably less camaraderie. Maybe it was the rain, but the concert was surprisingly under-attended. Which was a shame, because Peter Bjorn and John form a finely honed unit.

"This is our first time to the land of the O.C.," Peter said. The crowd cheered.

But mostly they waited. And as soon as "Young Folks" was performed, many headed for the exits. Apparently, they didn't care about the old folks or the old style too.

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