A last minute scheduling change saw the Owen Pallett show move from the spacious Olympic Hall to the intimate Seahorse. It turned out to be the best performance of the festival, eliminating the space between the audience and a performer who spent last year playing stadiums and arenas with Arcade Fire.
Pallett came out, told the crowd he likes crowd participation in close quarters, took his boots off, then played a song solo. It’s incredible watching him create layer after layer of sound, looping all kinds of sounds through his violin and synth while controlling a giant pedal board of blinking lights, buttons and switches with his sock feet.
While he could have carried on the show solo with no complaints, he instead brought out Robbie Gordon (drums) and Matt Smith (bass) to create an even more robust sound. Another show happening at the Seahorse later that night meant the show ended early, however, Pallett still found the time to take requests from the crowd, playing solo versions of “E is for Estranged” and “Song For Five & Six”. While his performances are complex and almost intimidating, Pallett has a calmness in his voice that enchants and blows the mind. However the show took a dramatic turn towards the end of the set during “The Riverbed”, a track off his latest album In Conflict. Pallett’s vocals became more aggressive, teeming with urgency as he played manic keyboard notes halfway through and Robbie Gordon hit drums and cymbals with the more vigour than any song that night.
There was no time for a long encore. Instead Pallett played crowd favourite “This Is The Dream of Win and Regine” and like a dream, the mesmerizing performance was over before we could fully comprehend it.
Photo: Jonathan Briggins/Mixtape Magazine
Video by YouTube user Holly Porter