by Anna Alger
Although it was an all ages afternoon show and the first of two in one day, Owen Pallett and Foxes in Fiction did a lot more than just prepare teenage fans for their “many unhappy nights” spent at Lee’s to come, as Pallett joked. The packed crowd was privy to a staggering example of how a performer, turning on a dime, can control and unleash energy.
The opener was Torontonian turned New Yorker, Foxes in Fiction (Warren Hildebrand). He was joined by Owen Pallett on violin, and Emily Reo on keys/synths/vocals. Hildebrand played guitar, keys/synths, and sang, creating a unique steadily paced environment with his enrapturing sound.
Hildebrand’s rather adorable and bashful stage presence countered the power in his music, which features swells of beats and loops coupled with lush instrumentation and sincere vocals. There was even a period of full out noise in one of his songs, a pleasant surprise that I relished.
The sound of Foxes in Fiction is based on creating an atmosphere that has a special intimacy to it, present in songs played such as “Glow (v079).” Given the barren nature of the lyrics on Owen Pallett’s latest album, In Conflict, it makes sense that he would go to Foxes in Fiction to prepare an inviting precursor to his live show.
This was Pallett’s first hometown show (excluding his date performing with Arcade Fire) since the warmup tour for the release of In Conflict, last May. Since then, he has been seemingly constantly touring and this has only led to a greater level of precision in his playing, both alone and with his band. He greeted the crowd quipping that he hadn’t been to Toronto before and was excited to make his debut, later proclaiming that the audience was cute and that he was creeping on us (but was also blinded by the lights onstage).
Switching between solo performances such as “That’s When the Audience Died,” and “This Lamb Sells Condos,” and songs joined by his bandmates Matt Smith and Rob Gordon of his former group, Les Mouches, the set focused mainly on material from In Conflict and Heartland. One of its unexpected additions was his cover of Tori Amos’ “Pretty Good Year,” a song he made all his own by utilizing his looping method.
There was great joy in his performance, evident within swells in the music where Owen would dance and play with vigour, yelling with unrestrained passion. He was able to reel in these explosions of sound at lightning speed, regaining control over the intricate looping present in his songs. This is what makes Owen Pallett such an amazing performer: his ability to let go and snap back into rigorous concentration with finesse.
Foxes in Fiction and Owen Pallett complemented each other in creating a truly wondrous show of sound and most importantly, an exhibition of the love they have for what they do.