Owen Pallett @ Fly By Night, Perth (22/01/11)

Fremantle’s intimate venue The Fly by Night was the perfect atmosphere for the eerie experimental musical stylings of Canadian violin extraordinaire Owen Pallet.

The night was kicked off by local Perth musician Sean Pollard who charmed audiences with a poetic acoustic set. Following was the technically trained cellist Jessica Says, who had the audience fixated with her divine ever-changing pop arrangements.

Pallet made the stage wearing a flat cap bunnet and bare feet. With his leather boots to one side, the unaccompanied musician seemed at ease and quite comfortable in the intimate surroundings surrounded by his keyboard, violin and electronic looping equipment.

To begin, Pallett skipped the small talk and instantly captured the audience’s attention with compelling multi-phonic looping, intricate orchestral technicality and ambiguous lyrical skill which engaged the audience on a personal level.

Iridescent pop delights such as Midnight Directives from his highly acclaimed 2010 album Heartland showed off Pallett’s wavering baritone vocals, devotion to unconventional pedal formations and obvious desire to develop sounds that unpredictably fuse classical elements with modern pop melodies. The first few songs set in motion the ambiance for the rest of the set and left the audience in an instinctive hypnotic sway.

After a couple of outstanding songs, Pallett introduced himself, and embarked on a conversation with the audience. The intimate nature of the venue allowed Pallett to display his quirky, humble demeanour as he broke the ice by telling the audience that he was open to requests. “I’ll be your whore if you be my pimp.” he said, and how could fans resist?

The far- fetched requests from Michael Jackson songs to classical orchestral compositions make him chuckle. Pallett decided to perform his song Please, Please, Please from his debut release, after explaining that the song was composed in such a way that he cannot physically perform it live. Pallett pointed out an individual in the crowd asking; “Who requested this song? It was you wasn’t it!, I don’t know you but… I have a gun!. Although it was evident that Pallett struggled with the execution, the performance was a rare enriching experience filled with mind blowing highs and moody ethereal lows.

The most notable surprise was a cover of the well know Caribou hit Odessa which got the crowd in high spirits and nodding their heads uncontrollably. It seemed like some could not resist Pallett’s enchanting performance, towards the front one lone individual erratically danced in the middle of a still crowd.

The set concludes with the quirky buoyant crowd pleaser Lewis takes off his shirt. With provocative lyrics and an upbeat synth-pop melody Pallett’s final song left the majority of the audience mesmerized with permanent goofy smiles and wistful, lucid mind-sets. As the crowd departed, the very humble Pallett came down to the bar to casually converse with his fans.

Owen Pallett live was memorable and it was intriguing to witness the amount of effort and skill that goes into creating the unusual sounds that he is known for. If you are a fan of avant experimental pop and missed out on experiencing Pallett live then get your hands on his album Heartland though nothing can top personally witnessing obscurity in the making.