When Final Fantasy‘s Owen Pallett, a.k.a. violinist for every cool band in the country, finally made his way onto The Boat’s tiny stage during his video launch party last night, he noted ruefully that a long line-up is usually the sign of a bad concert. It certainly was a bad concert for the hundredish folks who stamped their feet to keep warm out in the cold on Augusta for over an hour and did not get into the small, boat-shaped bar (selected for the evening because it is where said video for This is the Dream of Win and Regine was shot).
For those who eventually made it in, however, the bitter taste of the elitist clubesque line was soon washed away with a chaser of sound-induced rapture. Pallett, the prodigal son returning from a European tour, gave the performance of the night, playing a number of new songs — Hey Dad, The Miner Becomes Forgetful, and Song, Song, Song, a brilliant number that will be the single off his upcoming April album and lives up to its name by being three times the song you could ever write — wowwing with a tour-polished version of Please, Please, Please, and finishing things off with a crowd-pleasing rendition of Mariah Carey’s Fantasy accompanied by his curly-haired, ex-boyfriend Gentleman Reg.
But enough Pallett idolatry — Torontoist would like to turn your attention to Laura Barrett, pictured, who played before Final Fantasy and was new to our eyes and ears. She seduced, though some might say perplexed, the racuous crowd using only her voice and her opposable thumbs, which were put to use plucking a Kalimba and, occasionally, pushing her geek-chic glasses back to the top of her nose. The long-haired brunette had us with her opening number Robot Ponies, which you can hear on her MySpace, and then, three songs later, when we were just beginning to think that the novelty of the 15 notes in the key of G that her African thumb-piano can play had worn off, she pulled out a cover of a parody — Weird Al’s Smells Like Teen Spirit — and our dorky hearts and minds were won. We sang along to the anthem of a generation of outcast outcasts, “A garage band / from Seattle / well it sure beats / raising cattle.”
Barrett, a pianist who took up the Kalimba in the last year and a recent Linguistics and English U of T grad, has an artfully-packaged EP out called Earth Sciences. It includes a song called Stop giving your children standardized tests, part one. You can catch the sweet science nerd later this month at The Bagel, details of which the self-correcting power of the blogosphere will soon post in the comments.