Photos by John Hartsfield
Owen Pallett, a multi-instrumentalist looping maestro stole the stage at the Orchid Tapes Showcase on Saturday night. Wedged between R.L. Kelly and Foxes In Fiction (fronted by Warren Hildebrand who also runs Orchid Tapes), the most thunderous applause was reserved for Pallett on-stage alone. In the newly renovated Swedish American Hall, if you looked down at the crowd from one of the balcony’s thrones (yes, they preserved the thrones), you’d notice no one mindlessly scrolling or texting. Instead, each building loop from Pallett’s violin and pedals made the solo act feel like many, many people were on-stage supporting.
Pallett’s most recent solo album arrived last May on Domino, In Conflict. Despite many false starts of looping on either the violin or keyboard during his set in between sips of something-or-other from a mug, he managed to play a few newer tracks such as “I Am Not Afraid” and “The Passions”. At one point he made a slight pause before saying, “this is a cover I haven’t done in a long time” and then launched into a Steve Reich phasing piece.
The 35-year-old collaborated with Will Butler of Arcade Fire to compose the soundtrack for Spike Jonze’s innovative dystopian film, Her, nominated for Best Original Score at the Academy Awards. He Poos Clouds, released under his RPG-inspired moniker Final Fantasy, won him the 2006 Polaris Prize, and is purported to be about how atheists confront death. While his music is ethereally beautiful most of the time (looping can feel repetitive if the tension isn’t suspended), Pallett’s missteps along the way were right after R.L Kelly’s frequent start and stops and “oh, fucks.” Despite the hiccups, it was an enthralling experience.