Final Fantasy, Vicar St.
Those of us who witnessed Owen Pallett perform in the Foggy Notions tent at this year's Electric Picnic were impressed enough to warrant a high degree of anticipation for the Vicar St. show on 11 December, although a festival addled mind is prone to strange conclusions.
The packed crowd at the fully seated gig were suitably hyped up, even taking notice of the warm-up act Miracle Fortress, five noisy geek rockers doing John Cale covers and swigging from wine bottles.
When Final Fantasy himself arrived the audience gave rapt attention to his every word, although he did not give many, preferring to launch into song after song.
After a short time he explained that the set-up he was using was a new quadraphonic system, which apparently means that four channels are used, with speakers in four corners of the room, reproducing signals that are independent of each other (thank you Mr. Wikipedia). This resulted in different areas of the large room that is Vicar St. hearing different music. Unfortunately, the floor was wedged with tables and chairs, and Pallett's songs change constantly, with one often running into another and different from the recorded versions, so testing his sound experiment by running from one side of the room to the other to hear the difference was not really feasible.
We contented ourselves with watching his mesmerising solo performance, on violin and keyboard, with sounds emerging from a space somewhere between classical music and computer game soundtracks, complete with screams into the fiddle soundboard and operatic singing.
Intricate layers of sound were created and looped using pedals at his shoeless feet, with gyrations so complicated that a foot twice went astray, knocking off all the sound.
He admitted that the quadraphonic experiment was confusing to him, saying “It's tricky, I can't really tell what's going on”, but the crowd didn't seem to mind, demanding two encores, playing us out with a storming cover of Maria Carey's Sweet Sweet Fantasy Baby.