Owen Pallett’s Secret Show at the Drake Hotel

Owen Pallett

by Elena Gritzan

I am so happy that I comb through my twitter feed religiously.  At about 8:30 PM on Monday night, Airick Woodhead (aka Doldrums) left the following message: “sneaky owen pallett set tonight at the drake hotel T. O.! ima play a song with moon kings. come. its free and sometimes they have free sushi”.  After a moment of disbelief (how often does a last minute secret show featuring your all-time favourite musician drop into your lap on a Monday night?), it was right onto a streetcar and down to the Queen Street West venue.

The night began with Moon King and Army Girls, both with really solid sets.  I am starting to notice actually how small and community-like Toronto’s music scene can be: in the past month, I’ve already seen Moon King’s Daniel Woodhead perform as part of Hut, and Army Girls played the Wavelength festival last weekend.  The venue was actually filled with some recognizable Toronto-indie faces (it was Dorian Wolf’s birthday celebration, apparently!).

I should mention again that Owen Pallett is my musical hero: Heartland essentially catalyzed my obsession with Canadian independent music (and music in general, really).  He played a short set (only six songs), including two new ones.  Pallett has ditched the solo shows in favour of adding drums and guitar by playing with his former Les Mouches band-mates, Rob Gordon and Matt Smith.  This adds new dimensions to songs from Heartland; the triumphant chorus of “Lewis Takes Off His Shirt” sounds that much more epic with the extra parts layered over the violin and keyboard.

The set began with “Tryst with Mephistopheles” and ended in an encore of “The Great Elsewhere”, the two most dynamic songs from his Heartland album.  They both end in slowly moving chords and mark major points in the story behind the album (where the main character of the narrative, Lewis, kills his creator Owen and realizes that he is a fictional character, respectively).

Pallett’s new songs are especially exciting.  Less dependent on violin (though definitely still present), he uses pre-recorded electronic sounds more than he used to.  He falsettoed and plucked his violin guitar-style through the first new song (no title has been released yet!).  The second new song is called “Infernal Fantasy”, we are told, and it sounds like “Lewis/Shirt” was thrown in a blender with a drum and bass song, in the best way possible.  There are rumours surrounding an upcoming release (later this year? 2013?) and I am honestly already full of anxious anticipation.


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