Owen Pallett Brings New Music to The Bowery Ballroom

May 15th, 2014

Owen Pallett – The Bowery Ballroom – May 14, 2014

If you were swept away by the dreamy score of last year’s film Her, you should thank one Owen Pallett. The very talented Canadian composer earned an Oscar nomination for his efforts and follows that accolade with the upcoming release of his fourth studio album, In Conflict, due later this month. Although it was recorded in 2013, the release was delayed due to Pallett’s duties as the violinist for Arcade Fire’s Reflektor tour. We can forgive him for that. With his works largely composed with a violin into a loop pedal, a comparison to Andrew Bird is inevitable, however the detailed thesis for his latest work draws quite a distinction in subject matter. “The record is meant to approach ‘insanity’ in a positive way,” Pallett says in an official statement. “Depression, addiction, gender trouble and the creative state are presented as positive, loveable, empathetic ways of being. Not preferable, per se, but all as equal, valid positions that we experience, which make us human.”

Donning a floral polyester shirt last night, the Canuck opened with “Midnight Directives,” from 2010’s Heartland, to a nearly sold-out Bowery Ballroom, which included Dev Hynes (aka Blood Orange and Lightspeed Champion). Pallett had a little false start before “Scandal at the Parkade” and exclaimed, “I’ve lost my mojo and can’t play anymore.” Despite little hiccups, there was no doubting the talent onstage. Pallett dismissed his band as he continued solo, digging deep into his Final Fantasy days for “That’s When the Audience Died,” while the “bummer jam of the night” clearly was “The Passions.” The band returned to rejuvenate the stage with fan favorites “This Is the Dream of Win and Regine” and “The Great Elsewhere.”

Pallett encored with the pair of “Song for Five and Six” and “Lewis Takes Off His Shirt,” but he didn’t really show all his tricks until the second and final encore. Earlier in the set, he denounced covers as “so 2004,” saying that he stopped playing them. But while bantering with fans about the final song, rumblings of Tori Amos arose, and he said he’d need to work it out. Pallett attempted “Pretty Good Year” only to give up and conclude the evening with a cover of Joanna Newsome’s “Peach Plum Pear. Trading harp plucks for violin plucks, the evening ended successfully and without conflict. —Sharlene Chiu