Peter Bjorn and John
Coming right from the airport and soon heading further to the soundcheck, the Swedish trio, Peter Bjorn and John, takes a short break for us at the café at Funkhaus. At a prosaic setting with restricted equipment and no time for big arrangements, the smart-dressed group starts into a truly exhilarated and energetic performance. The spark of enthusiasm from the terrific melody, catchy chord progressions and drum patterns right away jumps across from “Lay It Down”; not to forget about the animating vocal parts as this song is really meant to be sung out loud. Yet when the drummer John goes for the “Hey shut the fuck up boy…”-chorus, some guy is walking by on his right side. In real life doubtlessly polite and discreet (like actually all of them), John is bashfully laughing in this awkward, because mistakable situation. Then, just some meters down the road, Peter takes their song “Living Thing” by word and shows an out-and-out performance of frisky singing, guitar-playing and dancing all at once with which he might also score off an orchestra of bagpipe players that practises in a nearby courtyard and can be vaguely heard in the background.
Many bands and music artists that stop by Vienna call at the rectangular, greyish Funkhaus in Argentinierstraße. They follow an invitation from Radio FM4 to do an interview or play a session in one of the beautiful recording studios. FM4 is a national radio station and has become indispensable for listeners of alternative pop music in Austria and parts of Germany (the close-by Bavaria). It broadcasts – besides the music – a rather high level of spoken word content (some of it produced in English) and frequently organizes concerts. Apart from FM4 the listed building, constructed in the 1930s, houses another well-known radio station operated by the public broadcaster ORF – Ö1. Ö1 is a cultural radio network that focuses on classical music, jazz, documentaries, radio plays, discussions et al. Further mentionable and integrated in the 1930s Funkhaus is the RadioKulturhaus, that stages concerts, literature readings, round table discussion and other cultural events. Talked so much about culture, hence, it is not surprising that the adherent café is named KulturCafé.