“Yes, yes, pull out your phones and take a picture, let the irony seep through your veins,” says Father John Misty from beneath a spotlight on the Corona Theatre stage. He is standing within the frame of a giant iPhone cutout, scaled to size, as people in the audience whip our their phones to “capture the moment,” clearly missing the point… or rather serving as the punch line.
Known for his wit, deadpan humor, and captivating tunes, Father John (a.k.a ex-Fleet Fox Josh Tillman) has constructed a stage persona that is at once transparent, and the next, completely enigmatic. Sporting a beard, and equipped with a guitar, good looks, and beautifully written songs about the failing economy and having sex while high, Misty manages to subvert the typical “singer/songwriter” persona by keeping it weird and unpredictable – something a lot of musicians are just too afraid to do.
Opening for Father John’s solo gig this past Wednesday was Kate Berlant, an experimental New York comedian with bite. Heavy with irony, Berlant delivered her (mostly) improvised jokes to a crowd that half got it, and half didn’t. While most of the anglophones in the crowd laughed heartily at her faux-hipster accents, pseudo-feminist theory, and self-deprecating puns, many of the francophones in the audience seemed lost, mumbling the equivalent of “what the fuck”, as Berlant walked about the stage, using the smoke machine as a wand. Yet despite the language barrier, Berlant still managed to pull off a great comedic set, feeding into the night’s theatrical, Vaudeville theme– exemplified first when Father John walked onto the stage after her opening set dressed in a suit, but wearing a white rabbit head.
After taking off the rabbit head and creepily kissing it on the forehead, Misty launching into his set with the song “I’m Writing a Novel” off his album Fear Fun, as an unopened bottle of red wine, a glass, and a singular coat hanger hung out in the background. Working his way through the album, as well as a few new songs containing lines like, “I obliged later on/ When you asked me to choke you,” Misty kept is real by throwing in banter during, and in between songs that added another layer to Fear Fun’s familiar, emotionally-charged tunes. About three-quarters of the way through the set, Misty suddenly flipped the switch into theatre mode, hanging up his blazer on the aforementioned coat hanger in a burlesque fashion, and pouring out the entire bottle of wine into the glass; its contents spilling out onto the stage. Whether it was a statement about the nature of performance art or whether it was just an example of him saying, “I don’t really give a fuck,” it was effective and kept the crowd guessing what he would do next.
Finishing the show with, “You’ve been a beautiful audience, so I’d like to leave with a song about bible sex,” Misty proved that folk music can still be bad-ass and provocative.
| Photos by Amelia Robitaille, All rights reserved. |