Published Nov 16, 2019Five years and counting since his last full-length, and just as long since his most recent solo appearance in the nation's capital, Owen Pallett nonetheless managed to draw a sizable crowd for a Friday night appearance at Ottawa's 27 Club.
Best known as vocalist for the underrated synth-pop band, DIANA, as well as her band Army Girls, Toronto's Carmen Elle kicked off the evening's festivities. Hitting the stage with just an effects-less electric guitar, Elle seemed to approach each song in her 40-minute set gawkily and with self-awareness before hitting a sonic stride and becoming absorbed with her strummy guitar playing and dazzling vocals.
Playing the penultimate date of a short five-stop tour, Owen Pallett looked cheerful and loose while entering the barren stage. Skirted only by a backdrop fittingly showing computer generated images of videogame-esque moving landscapes, the Mississauga musician opening his set with "The Riverbed" from his 2014 LP In Conflict — which found Pallett shifting from guitar to violin while looping and layering each via his rack of effect pedals.
Debuting a trio of songs from an unfinished record reportedly called Island (in which he's said to have been working on, and rewriting, since 2017), Pallett relied heavily on his guitar playing, demonstrating his recent knack for intricate and elegant fingerpicking. After a rendition of an early Final Fantasy EP track, "The Butcher," Pallett finished off his set with even more new material before sprinkling in a few fan favourites, including "E is for Estranged," "The Passions" and a rendition of "Lewis Takes Off His Shirt" that found Cameron Elle hopping on stage to sing along.
As his 12-song set was mostly played straight through without breaks (with Owen even asking the crowd to restrain from clapping), Pallett announced to the crowd that the last three songs would be his unofficial "encore," as he eschewed leaving the stage due to time constraints.
Closing the evening off with a pair of Final Fantasy tracks, "That's When the Audience Died" and "This Is the Dream of Win & Regine" — when the polite and staid crowd finally showing some life — Pallett capped off a tightly-orchestrated set that often felt more like a listening party for his new material than your average Friday night rock concert.