Owen Pallett @ Biltmore Cabaret -- 05/28/15

The Road to Bestival ran through the Biltmore Cabaret in Vancouver the other night. The UK festival stretched its legs this year and will touch down in Toronto June 12th & 13th, and to drum up some hype they put on a series of free shows across the country, presented by Fido Mobile, with bands from the lineup. Vancouver was lucky enough to get Owen Pallett, and of course, there's no way I would miss seeing his immense talents at a venue like the Biltmore.

Hometown electronic band Gang Signs started the night out, beginning with a dark and percussive synth sound, the vocals split between Matea Sarenac and Peter Ricq (one half of Humans).
They spent most of the first song gazing downwards (perhaps at their shoes) for a darker and moody song, and I was a little weary that the whole set was going to be like that. But they slowly built the energy up as their set went on, building to more dancey and uptempo songs.
There were a couple in particular that I liked -- though didn't get the name of either -- but overall I thought it was just a good set, with some solid electro-pop. They were a perfectly good opening band.

To begin his set, Owen Pallett took the stage alone to start with some violin looping, but was quickly foiled by a faulty midi cable. However, after a quick anecdote of how he felt about playing a show for a cell phone company (in the end, he was okay with it) he got going with a few older songs from his Final Fantasy days, "That's When The Audience Died" and "This Lamb Sells Condos", putting on a clinic as he pieced each song together layer by layer.

The rest of the band, Rob Gordon and Matt Smith on drums and bass, came out after that, as they went into some newer material, starting off with the title track to his latest album In Conflict. Pallett danced back and forth between violin and keyboard, or both with his masterful looping, as his amazing voice soared over everything.
That is, until it came to an abrupt pause. As Chekhov knows, you can't introduce a broken cable in act one without it ruining the show later on, and about halfway through, "Soldier's Rock" came to a screeching halt. Owen explained the cable had been acting up all night, and while barely noticeable to the audience, he had to fix it to continue. This slowed the momentum a but while Matt vamped by awkwardly talking about some current events, but soon after they were right back into it, picking the energy right back up as "Tryst With Mephistopheles" built to a furious ending.

Owen played a few more songs alone before being rejoined by the band, and climaxing the main set with a song that has become one of my absolute favourites, the incredible "The Riverbed" driving with intensity and leaving everyone in the room breathless, before they closed with one last one, "The Great Elsewhere" from his Heartland album.

There wasn't even a pretense of an ending, though, as Owen left some reverb going, and he was soon back out alone for a few more songs. He once more engaged the audience, asking some questions and responding with his dry humour before going into a cover of Tori Amos' "Pretty Good Year". He finally decided on just two more songs, a pair of insane fan favourites, both getting huge reactions; "Many Lives → 49 MP" which had people singing/shouting along, and the ode to his Arcade Fire bandmates, "This Is the Dream of Win & Regine". Both songs, one again, gorgeously showing off his frantic bowing, and plucking of the violin's strings, for the perfect ending to the night.

That's When The Audience Died, This Lamb Sells Condos, In Conflict, Scandal at the Parkade, Keep the Dog Quiet, Soldier's Rock [attempt #1], Soldier's Rock [attempt #2], Tryst with Mephistopheles, The Passions, Song for Five & Six, The Secret Seven, Infernal Fantasy, The Riverbed, The Great Elsewhere.
(encore) Pretty Good Year [Tori Amos cover], Many Lives → 49 MP, This Is the Dream of Win & Regine.