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“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.

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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.

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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.

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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 Funas 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.

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| Photos by Amelia Robitaille, All rights reserved. |