The Radio Dept. quietly blew into town Saturday night, heating up Petit Campus while heavy snow was falling outside. The minimalist Swedish dream pop trio played a tight set and hit up a variety of tunes from their discography, with songs from 2010’s Clinging to a Scheme and their earlier work.
The Radio Dept. started off as a high school band in 1995, and launched their first album Lesser Matters in 2003. They first garnered attention when Sofia Coppola pulled “Keen on Boys” from Lesser Matters, and two other of their songs, for her sweet but anachronistic movie soundtrack Marie Antoinette.
Satuday’s lineup included founding member and vocalist/guitarist Johan Duncanson, who was casually decked out in plaid, sweatpants and sneakers, and fellow bandmates Martin Larsson and Daniel TjÃ¤der.
As you can imagine for people who are fans of a low-key band like Radio Dept., the audience was fairly subdued, but rapt. Petit Campus was packed, and when they came to the catchy, danceable “Never Follow Suit” off their last album, the crowd started bopping.
Some of the audience members agreed that the show was solid, but what the band lacked was presence, witty banter and a longer encore. Five minutes of straight applause and hollering disappointingly yielded only one extra song from their earlier work. Or maybe their brand of soft shoe gaze is better matched to home listening on headphones rather than live in a crowded hall. It felt like some of The Radio Dept.’s hushed magic evaporated in person.