Sat 16 Jan – Owen Pallett [Tomorrow Never Knows 2010]Owen Pallett
mentioned to the packed house at Schubas that he wasn’t feeling well, apologizing for not being his usual “showgirl self”, but any side effects of a lingering illness were invisible on Saturday night. His performance was just as intense and impeccable as it was the last time I saw him, with the only real difference being a lack of between-song banter. But with the high caliber performance Pallett (and multi-instrumentalist Thomas Gill) put on, it absolutely didn’t matter.
His performance is truly something to behold. With one leg often swinging back and forth like a pendulum as he stands and plays, Pallet is full of a nervous energy as he plays. There’s something nearly violent about his technique — his bow was shredded by the second song — which is incongruent with what I can really only describe as the smoothness of his voice. Take away the frantic arpeggios and tremolos and you’ve got just his simple voice spinning extraordinary tales.
Both opening acts were tremendous as well, and the show is already on my list of contenders for best show of 2010 (if I get around to making a list like that at the end of the year). Sharon Van Etten
has a beautiful voice, her gentle singing making you almost forget about how heartbreaking her lyrics can be. ”Consolation Prize”, with its line of “the moral of the story is don’t lie to me again”, and “Have You Seen” (“Have you seen what I once called my heart? Have you seen my life that’s now falling apart?”) both really killed me. Her debut album, Because I Was in Love
, is pretty clearly a break-up sort of album, described by someone standing behind me at the show as “sad bastard music”. I think that might just be my new favorite genre, actually. I enjoyed her album but liked her live performance even more. Despite the packed room, and despite the fact that Van Etten is one tiny woman with a guitar, her voice managed to cut through all the noise and hush even the loudest and most obnoxious of concert-goers.
But the real surprise for me was the amazing performance of Peter Wolf Crier
. I’ve seen Owen Pallett before, and I’ve heard numerous times about how great Sharon Van Etten is live, so I knew I was in for a treat with their sets. But only being familiar in passing with the music of Peter Wolf Crier (guitarist/vocalist Peter Pisano and drummer/vocalist Brian Moen) meant that I was completely unprepared for how great their set was. Pisano’s voice reminded me frequently of M Ward and AA Bondy, having a sort of world-weary quality; this particularly struck me on the track “Down Down Down”. I was really blown away by the intensity of their set, in all respects. Pisano snapped a guitar string early in the set, but luckily there was a spare guitar sitting around. If you ever have a chance to see them live, go do it. You won’t regret it.See the full review here.