A good friend of mine recently asked me, if I ever feel like I’m not doing anything. The response in my head was: YES, ALL the time actually. Especially when I see people like Owen Pallett in front of me, alive, real, and exploding talent and creativity.
The “I’m not creative enough, not doing anything with my life” feeling aside, I did feel extremely fortunate to see Efterklang and Owen Pallett at the Cross-linx festival in Utrecht this week. The festival brought together the new project of Efterklang, Efterklang,Daniel Bjarnason & Their Messing Orchestra. This is not only impressive on paper, but also on stage. It is the usual 7-piece Efterklang live band with Daniel James (of Canon Blue) on guitar, Heather Broderick on piano and Peter Broderick on vibes and steel drum. And then the Icelandic composer Daniel Bjarnason on Rhodes and THEN a saxophone quartet, a brass quartet and a classic percussionist. Then you get the majestic 17 piece band:
In a large band like this, you feel the creativity buzz, but it does not in any way come across as a big sign saying “you are not nearly as talented”. After watching a short (1hr) set by Efterklang, I went to the Pavillion where Owen Pallett was to perform. The 15 minutes inbetween the two shows gave me just about enough time to shift mind-sets, from a 17 piece band of Nordic music to a 1-man-power show.
Owen Pallett was… well, powerful. He started off a little bit quiet, with songs that he called were more “emo”, proceeded to more dancier, upbeat songs like Don’t Stop. It felt in a way that he followed the arch of his songs, and became chattier and he might have even smiled.
To my surprise, the whole Pavilion emptied pretty quickly, as everyone wanted to get a good place for The National concert, and I found myself lingering around and wondering if I should say hi to this person who can be on stage by himself, not be intimidated, not be nervous, and just play his songs, and charm a whole crowd. Of course, it was extremely nice to discover that he is not an intimidating person, but a very nice one to talk to, even if for a few minutes.
My disappointment of the night, however, came with The National. After Owen Pallett’s one man presence on stage, to see The National with about 8 people on stage, with a light show and visuals in the back, I felt like “so what?”. You don’t actually need any of these to present your music. Naturally, when used for a concept like Jonsi did back last year in Paradiso, it adds up to the music and becomes an experience. But when it is just a show next to your music, it gets blinding. I did not enjoy The National’s performance. I wished there was another hour of Owen Pallett instead. But overall, it was a great experience, just to see Efterklang and Owen.