Owen Pallett, aka Final Fantasy, plays with himself in front of hundreds of people. By this I mean, he electronically loops the sound of his own violin, keyboard and voice and then plays along with it. He was in Kingston last night and played to a nearly sold-out audience at Sydenham Street United Church. I went to check him out because I had always heard great things and I’m a violinist too so I was very curious to see how he does what he does. I did some research leading up to the show, watching rough YouTube videos of various performances of him all over the world from tiny stages in dirty little bars to more formal performances with full orchestras. The videos were interesting and sounded pretty good considering, but nothing compares to what I saw live last night.
Not only is this guy a monster violinist (clearly classically trained from a young age) but his voice is sweet but strong and his ability to multi-task is awe-inspiring. I have sung while playing the violin and it is extremely difficult. We use the same side of the brain to do both tasks so to do them at once can be bit of a gong show. When I first attempted this I found my fingers would lose their way and play out of tune or, on the other end, I’d sputter and pause in my singing, unable to get the right words out. Owen has an incredible hold on this technique. Not only can he play and sing, he can play extremely difficult, full violin lines while belting out complicated and heart-felt vocals.
He is known mostly as a one-man show but on this current tour he shares the stage with an equally talented band mate, Thomas Gill. Thomas provides percussion, guitar, vocals and the most impressive whistling I’ve ever heard. Opening was Diamond Rings, lead singer of the D’Ubervilles who recently put out an album with Kingston’s own PS I Love You.
For a small taste of what you missed, please hit play on the video below.