Monday, January 18, 2010

Owen Pallett, Diamond Rings @ The Mod Club in Toronto (January 12, 2010)

Owen Pallett @ The Mod Club: photo by Michael Ligon
  Owen Pallett @ The Mod Club: photo by Michael Ligon

The Mod Club last Tuesday night was the scene of a way sold-out show featuring headliner Owen Pallett on the occasion of his most recent album "Heartland". Signing to Domino Records in the UK and recently dropping his 'Final Fantasy' moniker in favour of his own name, Mr. Pallett's been a beacon for Toronto/Canadian talent for sometime now, and there was no doubt as indicated by the warm response from the crowd that he is very much appreciated.

Mr. John O'Regan may be better known as the frenetic frontman for spastic indie rock outfit of The D'Urbervilles, or perhaps you may even know him as one half(the second half being The Magic's Sylvie Smith) of the now-defunct melancholy electro-pop duo Habitat but as opener for the night, he's now branched out on his own under the moniker of Diamond Rings. Even recent touting by Pitchfork wasn't enough to motivate to check Diamond Rings' music prior to the show but after seeing or more accurately hearing his live set, I now realize the err of my ways. With subtle laptop electro-beats and accompanying himself with keys or electric guitar plus a duet with special guest Gentleman Reg, there was a bevy of scintillating melodies that reminded me of the directness of The Magnetic Fields, although trading in Mr. Merritt's dourness for a more playful attitude. Don't let Mr. O'Regan's tie-dyed t-shirt, glitter and eye makeup distract you - these are really great pop songs. Yes, I was really disappointed that his vinyl release was sold out at the merch table (actually, I'm not sure if they even had any of the vinyl at the merch table, but John did tell me it was sold out).

On past occasions seeing Final Fantasy live there were multimedia experiences with Owen's performance providing a soundtrack to screen projections behind him. Not to say that the music was ever secondary but the creative visuals were always such a nice component. Other than some nice ambient lighting onstage, Owen's performance this time was directly focused on the music. Somehow I'd avoided all contact with the new album "Heartland" (including any advance mp3's made available to the public on the web months ago) prior to it's release last week and prior to the show so as sets go it was mostly unfamiliar territory for me. While there was of course heavy emphasis on the new album, Owen did round out the setlist with faves like set-opener "This Is The Dream of Win and Regine"(from "Has a Good Home"), as well as "This Lamb Sells Condos Play" and "Many Lives -> 49 mp" (from "He Poos Clouds"), and "The Butcher" (from "Spectrum, 14th Century" EP). At this point, I can't offer up any useful critical analysis of the new material except that Owen's cherubic vocals, and supple violin technique (with Owen's use of his violin as a melodic instrument as much as a percussive instrument, epecially with his use of a loop pedal) are still expertly on display. Melodically, the new material's a bit more of slow burner for me since nothing's standing out for me at this point, but with time I expect it to reveal its qualities. One comment I do have is that although Owen had an added onstage member with multi-instrumentalist Thomas Gill, while Mr. Gill did have some nice contributions as a background vocalist and whistler, I felt he was hardly neccessity in terms of added instrumentation considering Owen's profiency as a one-man act. That criticism[well, not really a criticism but more like an observation] aside, I can't express enough how joyous I was to see and hear this show. Really, it was a thing of beauty, and if you're going to see him perform at the quite larger Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Toronto on April 8, I'm sure that'll be a sight and sound to behold.

Eye has a similarly positive review of the show. Someone's posted the setlist for the show. Aux has video of an interview they had with Owen Pallett.

Photos: Owen Pallett, Diamond Rings @ The Mod Club in Toronto (January 12, 2010)
MySpace: Owen Pallett
Video: Owen Pallett - "E is for Estranged" (live @ The Mod Club, Toronto, 12/Jan/2010)
Video: Owen Pallett - "Lewis Takes Action" (live @ The Mod Club, Toronto, 12/Jan/2010)
Video: Owen Pallett - "Honour The Dead or Else" (live @ The Mod Club, Toronto, 12/Jan/2010)
Video: Owen Pallett - "Lewis Takes Off His Shirt" (live @ The Mod Club, Toronto, 12/Jan/2010)
Video: Diamond Rings - "All Yr Songs" (music video)

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