The first time for anything is always a little delicate. The heart beats too fast and time flies by—just like him, too fast. August 15th was my first Take-Away Show. And the deflowerer is called Final Fantasy.
We met up with Owen Pallett at the entrance to Divan du Monde. We had met him originally as Arcade Fire’s violinist; he had already conceived Final Fantasy at that point. Tonight, this August evening, Final Fantasy had grown up, and Owen played live, alone. We walked down la rue des Martyrs, several steps from the venue where some fans were already gathering. Owen wondered a little about where he was going and what he was doing. That’s just the charm of a Take-Away Show: the unknown. We kept walking down the street, tranquilly. Our shadows spread out on the ground, under a piercing sun. Chryde conferred with Owen. Owen had done some research and watched some Take Away Shows before embarking on this adventure. Full of anecdotes, Chryde recalled good memories of recording with the Shins or Andrew Bird. He commanded the situation and put the artist at ease. At a crosswalk, Owen confessed that he had only prepared one song. Gulp…
Owen stops in front of a bakery window that he finds to his liking. The atmosphere intensifies, and the gunshot approaches. The artist is ready to draw his bow, and Vincent readies the camera. God… this is about to start.
The first notes of “Your Life is Spent” ring out in the street. Owen’s voice is beautiful, and it dances in the wind. He plays along with the rhythm of his steps, the bow nestled between his orange shirt and his skin. Then, suddenly, as if the spirit of all Take-Away Shows gathered into a gust, Owen starts to run. The impromptu act culminates in a grand moment: without looking, he crosses the street and laughs, all while continuing to play, of course. We follow him, also running, laughing like kids. Then, Owen stops, pulls the bow out from his shirt with verve, and finishes his song, somewhat breathless.
The camera stopped once, and he apologized for having taken off like that. We all responded that it would have been wrong to deprive us of this marvelous flight.
After this unexpected adventure, Owen was practically boiling over. Nearly unstoppable. Finally, he wanted to play for us, practically brimming with other songs.
Everyone is all smiles when we get back on rue des Martyrs. Maybe he should get closer to the venue… we had nearly forgotten that Owen has a concert to perform that night. Apparently, he’d forgotten too. Because, from then on, he was the one who looked for a welcoming spot to play his violin. We cross a lovely, though not astonishing, alleyway, several packed terraces—everything is closed! We’re like vagabonds. Upon crossing a street, without planning it, Owen dives in to a corner store, ready to play. Chryde introduces him around, and several seconds later, Owen’s voice resonates among the vegetables. He likes to push the decibels, making the walls vibrate and the jars dance. Such pretty colors–Vincent seems as taken with the setting as Owen. The spot is perfect.
A few hours later, alone with his bow, Final Fantasy has figured out how to shake us, how to make the experience unforgettable. And because the music is really a big family, he also offers us “Cliquot” as an encore, the title of Beirut’s new album, which he sings about. A little like the Take-Away Shows, this last vocal burst was completely unexpected, and thus was all the more magnificent. Then the spectators have their turn to walk down rue des Martyrs, the broad smiles and the violin melodies filling their heads. Thanks, Owen.
Translated by Caitlin Caven