starlady: headphones on top of colorful buttons (music (makes the people))
[personal profile] starlady
Last night I went on what was originally an impulse to see Owen Pallett, formerly known as Final Fantasy, play the sanctuary at the First Unitarian Church in Philadelphia.

Short version: Holy shit Owen Pallett is AMAZING. He is still on tour, if you like avant-classical and/or avant-pop music, you owe it to yourself to go.

Long version: I first became aware of Final Fantasy as the guy who does the string arrangements for (and plays in, I think) The Arcade Fire--as a matter of fact, one of his most famous songs, "This is the Dream of Win & Regine" is about The Arcade Fire. The recorded versions of his songs are awesome, but they just can't compare to what he does live, which is real-time looping of himself on his violin layered on top of other loops, with him continually singing and playing at the center of the sound, kind of like listening inside an egg, if you take my meaning. Now, this would be awesome live in and of itself, because Pallett really is a good live player; he puts in energies and sounds that just aren't on the studio versions. But aside from being an awesome composer he is also a phenomenal, phenomenal violin player. What he does with col legno bowing in particular is jaw-dropping, but that's just one of the many arrows in his technical quiver (and his violin is clearly a beautiful instrument; it even sounds great when he's shouting into the soundbox). Pallett could have had the classical world at his feet, but instead he is playing geeky music about video games and failed love affairs and modern life in churches. Musically speaking he deserves to have the world at his feet; the musicianship involved in many of his songs, which have insanely complicated syncopated rhythms, is just incredible. I can play the violin decently, but damn I barely have the mental power to answer yes or no questions while I'm doing it, but Pallett lays down loops and coordinates them while playing difficult finger passages and singing. It really is incredible. At the end we gave him a standing ovation, or at least, those of us with classical music backgrounds did.

The band Snowblink opened for Pallett, and they were pretty good; I liked that it was the woman with the bass guitar and the vocals while it was the men with the violin, mandolin, and guitar. No show is complete, however, without the random asshole shouting asinine from the rear (Random asshole: "More fingers!" Pallett: "...Kinky."), and the person who records the entire thing with their camera, which is a dumb way to experience any thing in my opinion. I also had the "woman who can't stop practicing conducting patterns" sitting next to me; now I admit I sat there tapping out the rhythms with my hands and feet the whole time, because 99% of the time I can't not keep the beat, (and I was grinning like a fool while I did it; Pallett is that good), but the conducting patterns? Just say no, people! But then, I went to a college that offered the bachelor of music, and there's nothing like being surrounded by people waving their hands up and down in the air while they walk across campus to rocket that up to the top of one's list of pet peeves.

Also I managed to lose my PATCO ticket somewhere between the station, the show, and the station, which was only a problem because I had to buy myself a new ticket at midnight and some guy who in retrospect had to be in some kind of altered mental state came RIGHT UP to me at the machine, in the deserted underground corridor, to ask if I had a light. No, I don't! I don't smoke, and I stopped carrying matches when the TSA started confiscating them. I realize that on the East Coast smoking is something younger middle- and upper-class white people do (in contrast to the Midwest, where in my experience it is strictly a lower class habit), and that I am one of the same, but no, I don't smoke. But at least cigarette guy took no for an answer quite nicely and immediately went to ask someone else walking past the same question, rendering the whole thing, essentially, a non-incident. I love Philly, but damn Center City rolls up the sidewalk on Sunday nights.
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