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Review: Father John Misty

Crescent Ballroom, Phoenix, Arizona, Joshua Tillman, Father John Misty, show review, Father John Misty live, Father John Misty solo, solo performance, Kate Berlant, Kate Berlant live, comic, comedian, stand up

On Halloween night, Crescent Ballroom welcomed solo performances by Kate Berlant and Joshua Tillman.

The show began around 7 PM with a performance from Kate Berlant, who has been deemed an experimental comedian by publications such as New York Times and Los Angeles Magazine. The Los Angeles-born, Brooklyn-dwelling improvisational comic brought some wit, sarcasm and rhetoric to the evening.

Crescent Ballroom, Phoenix, Arizona, Joshua Tillman, Father John Misty, show review, Father John Misty live, Father John Misty solo, solo performance, Kate Berlant, Kate Berlant live, comic, comedian, stand upDressed in a long red jacket, Berlant walked back and forth across the stage with the mic in hand, talking to and with the audience. Initially people seemed apprehensive and perplexed. After all, how often do you see a comedian prepping an audience for a solo set from a folk artist? Not every day.

Most concertgoers were situated in the under-age section and those over 21 were spaced out on the bleachers, near the Ballroom bar and in front of the stage. Berlant was successful at getting light laughter from those in attendance, but I suspect that half the people laughing actually understood the funny and the rest were just doing what they thought they should do. Some memorable one liners from the set: “You’re all here to get your tips soaked,” after asking who all was single; “Being controversial is sort of my addiction,” said in a valley-girl voice; and “When you close a door it becomes a wall” or “you can’t dance without dancing.”

Berlant breezed through her 30-minute set without any hecklers or major moments of silence and was led off stage with a wave-like clapping sequence that she coordinated before leaving by assigning two audience members to start and finish the clapping.

After a short intermission, the lights dimmed and there was Father John Misty, Joshua Tillman. Despite the holiday show date, Tillman didn’t seem to be dressed in costume for the occassion. Instead, he joked that he unintentionally came looking like Tom Hanks in Castaway — wearing a white button-up shirt, dark-colored pants that had rips near the crotch and below the knees, and what looked to be black and glitter nail polish on his left hand.

His presence was a quiet, somber one. On a dimmly lit stage, he stood as a man with his two guitars and not much else. A bottle of wine and a glass sat on a small table on the stage but remained untouched during the performance. The whistled solos and crooning vocals played beautifully in the subdued atmosphere. Tillman began his set with “I’m Writing a Novel” and continued on to include nearly every track from 2012’s Fear Fun; some newer songs, such as “I Love You, Honeybear;” and a cover of Dory Previn‘s “The Lady with the Beard.” The audience seemed most enamored with “Nancy from Now On” and “Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

Crescent Ballroom, Phoenix, Arizona, Joshua Tillman, Father John Misty, show review, Father John Misty live, Father John Misty solo, solo performance, Kate Berlant, Kate Berlant live, comic, comedian, stand upThe matter-of-fact performance was stripped down to the bones and the crowd mostly respected the low-key performance. A select few decided that holding a conversation in the dark and quiet Ballroom was a better alternative. To that, Tillman would stop and tell the chatty concertgoers: “Bear in mind, I’m listening to what you’re fuckin’ saying…I can hear you talking and it’s not like you’re invisible…just bear that in mind.” The audience responded with cheers, laughter and claps. He went on to say, “Keep talking if you want, but it’s going to fuck up the song…it’s messing me up…See, I can’t even remember the words to the song…” before telling a story of a neighbor’s annoying barking dogs.

A few other moments added color to the night. Tillman non-chalantly told jokes in song and between songs. Or maybe he wasn’t joking and the quips he said in a monotone voice weren’t intended for laughter, but the crowd was still in a funny mood because of Berlant.

When it came time for the encore, Tillman explained his two options: walk off stage and come back, or stay in place and play a few more songs. He stayed put, playing a couple more tunes before ending with “O I Long to Feel Your Arms Around Me.”

Watch videos from the Father John Misty show at Crescent Ballroom below…

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