Wednesday, 12 August 2009

"Oh shut up Owen, you hot mess..."

Final Fantasy live @ the Classic Grand, Glasgow, Wednesday 5th August 2009

Ten steps to achieving Final Fantasy with Owen Pallett:
  1. Accept that these things take time. Like Pallett says, his one man + violin + keyboard + looping pedals show is “50% preparation, and then 50% money shot; just one of the ways it’s like a porno.”
  2. Understand that the build-up is often every bit as good as the payoff, which is why Pallett’s joke doesn’t quite ring true.
  3. Acknowledge the fact that, actually, Pallett is a bit of a tease, and that his habit of cutting off his songs just as they peak is cheeky but cute.
  4. Watch ‘He Poos Clouds’ come together in front of you and realise that Mike Barthel severely underrated Pallet’s music in his otherwise excellent review(s) of the second Final Fantasy album.
  5. Hear the connection between the sawing climax of 'This Lamb Sells Condos' and the overwhelmingly specific combination of arrangement and emotion that characterises songs by artists like Joanna Newsom and Marnie Stern.
  6. Stop yourself from thinking about how the He Poos Clouds material is all about the way we use pop trash to understand our lives. Stop comparing Pallet's obliquely literary treatment of this theme to the relative naturalism of Scott Pilgrim or the more bullish approach of Phonogram. Music is magic, just like Jem said, but this ritual won't work without an attentive audience.
  7. Appreciate the many new songs that Pallett performs, which are “Experiments in extreme polyphony,” apparently.
  8. Laugh when a violin loop recorded during one song is accidentally activated during the next.
  9. Understand that chaos is part of the magic tonight, as Pallett all but admits when he jokes that his ultimate fantasy is to be described as "hot mess" on stage.
  10. Watch a member of the audience jokingly throw Pallett's words back at him (see: the title of this post); watch him request suggestions for an encore only to debate the quality of his own songs with a woman in the front row ("I actually think that 'The Butcher' is secretly a terrible song," he claims); watch all of this and realise that Pallett has made his low-key geek music seem far sexier and sillier and more charming than you would ever have imagined possible.
If you want you can even watch some videos of the performance in glorious side-on-vision afterwards, but don't mistake that for part of the ritual. You really did have to be there to get the full effect, as is so often the case with these things...

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