The saw of a lonely violin string and the hush of the crowd, it took a few tracks for Owen Pallett and his one-man thing Final Fantasy to win over the hardbacks. But sure enough, Pallett's sparse arrangements did the deed. A hand-drawn assortment of dinosaurs and other relics served as a backdrop as Pallett played tracks from his recent full-length, Final Fantasy Has a Good Home. Yes, there was a certain prefab element to the performance but as Pallett unleashed a series of well-placed screams in the direction of his violin, onlookers couldn't help take notice. A surprisingly slinky cover of Mariah Carey's "Fantasy" (aided and abetted by special guests Regine Chassagne and Gentleman Reg) helped too.
Wolf Parade took to the stage next and their knock-kneed slant on garage rock went over reasonably well amongst the popcorn sect. The Montreal four piece got their eat on over weirdo keyboard parts, half-strung chords and howled vocals. It was corpus lupus all over again as the Parade scavenged bits of musical carrion for the amusements of others, and they won a number of new fans in the process. Win Butler eventually bounded from off stage and in cue, seats emptied and a dance floor was formed. Magic!
Now, as you may know by now, Regine and Win (see above) are the proverbial tent poles of the Arcade Fire, one of the most remarkable success stories in the history of Canadian independent music. This was the second of three overstuffed shows at the cavernous Danforth Music Hall and the Fire proved once again why they've earned their radio collars and deserve to be heard. The unsettling "Neighborhood #2 (Laika)" opened up and from that point forward, it was a dense and blissful performance that touched upon a range of emotions while remaining singularly unique and undeniable powerful. Butler's hulking frame was a commanding presence out front but it was multi-instrumentalist Richard Parry and Butler's brother Will that were often the focal points. Their peculiar take on percussion amused and confused, as they bashed at will on stray cymbals, motorcycle helmets and anything else in their paths. Centre stage, the rest of band churned through new tracks like the creepy "Intervention" and older fare like "No Cars Go" with the spirit of youth now pulsating through the lifeblood of every last soul in that theatre. Seriously, as Butler collapsed into the crowd during "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)", the spectacle increase ten fold. So much so that when half the audience took to the stage during the riotous encore version of "Wake Up", it seemed like the logical next stepÖrather than the mass of humanity it was. As a few hundreds screaming mouths urged their peers to awaken, the Arcade Fire broke the stage barrier (metaphorically speaking, of course) and whittled another notch into their signpost.
Writer: Cameron Gordon