Final Fantasy

House of Blues

January 24, 2005

BY MARTY GARNER


It's got to be a hell of a task opening for a band like The Arcade Fire. You have to go out in front of 1,000 insane people who have been screaming for the headliners since being let into the venue. Play well, and you have them in your pocket; mess up, and they'll boo you off the stage. So what did the unfortunately named Final Fantasy do at the House of Blues Monday night?

Using only a violin and a guitar effects processor, one man band Final Fantasy created forests of sound--strings cascading over percussive ground. By using his processor's delay setting, Fantasy provided not only backup and rhythm but an entire orchestra. He thumped the sides of his instrument and created a drum-like backbeat for his noodling. Fantasy's songs swelled to the breaking point, only to be dropped back down to bare-bones fiddling.

It would have been enough for the crowd if Final Fantasy was merely a virtuoso. But it certainly wasn't enough for the man himself, whose
songs were lovingly crafted slices of Canadian life. Once he started singing, he was just as much of a singer-songwriter as Elliot Smith, Conor Oberst, or any other guy-with-guitar. The packed house exploded every time he finished a song, much to his apparent surprise. Final Fantasy's intelligent, experimental songwriting style won over the loudest New Orleans crowd in my memory tonight. With the right label backing and a bit of exposure, who knows where he could go. If he gets a new name.


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