The Black Cat
April 15th, 2010
Owen Pallett had a cold during his show on Thursday night at the Black Cat’s mainstage. Nobody noticed until he said something—after his thirteenth song.
Nobody noticed he was onstage, either, at first. Though I’ll admit I was shamelessly scoping out the wiry, gangly must-be-a-roadie with asymmetrical hair and a black wife-beater, I couldn’t be sure that this man would start playing the violin after standing there, tuning said violin and staring unassumingly into the crowd for at least 10 minutes. But suddenly, we were off!
Pallett is one of those musicians an audience automatically takes to, based purely on the fact that he is having just as much fun performing as they are watching. And he’s quite impressive to watch—his songs use rapid-fire looping and layering (kind of like what my talentless self can do on this website, but unlike many other musicians who use a similar approach, 100% of the sound sound in many of his songs originate simply from him and a violin.
He was joined onstage for about half of his songs by who I presume to be a band-mate on backup guitar and percussion, (I however noted him only as The Most Attractive Hipster Boy In The World, in typical fashion). Pallet kept the crowd whooping and cat-calling for his entire set, playing a good balance between songs he’d previously released under his former name, Final Fantasy, and songs from his newest album Heartland, released under Owen Pallett.
I myself spent much of the concert completely bowled over—swerving between “Really?! That’s coming from a violin?” and “My orchestra teacher never told me I could do THAT [playing behind the bridge, etc.]!” Pallett has completely mastered the art of the violin, and with strategic pickups, layered effects, and of course masterfully precise looping, he manages to eke every kind of sound imaginable out of its little wooden frame during his live performances (he only used prerecorded material on 1/15 songs!). And he’s funny, too—“hold your applause, cash only please,” he said tongue-in-cheek as he paused between songs. All in all, I tend to judge concerts by how I measure their passage of time, and this one flew by on a golden violin string of pure enjoyment.
-- Fiona Hanly
"Sweet N Flo," Mondays 12-1 on WGTB