Monday, October 28, 2013

Show Review: Father John Misty “Solo” with Kate Berlant

Comedian Kate Berlant opened the night for a steadily growing crowd. With an acoustic guitar in hand for the majority of her set, she would strum a few chords and go into built-up rants or observations of the moment, easily making the crowd laugh without her jokes being blatant.

There’s something to say for comics who are genuinely funny, in the sense that they can just talk, like you would to a friend at a bar over a whiskey on the rocks. Berlant didn’t have the stereotypical joke-punchline routine, it was more along the lines of storytelling and critiquing. Her sarcasm and general antics were believable and got consistent laughs from the crowd. Personally, I’m not one who will watch Saturday Night Live or go to comedy shows, but I enjoyed Berlant’s performance.

After talking a bit about the manufacturing business practices behind the obnoxiously popular rubber wristbands, she threw some of her own, reading “I Feel,” out to the audience who eagerly snapped them up. Increasingly personable as her set continued, she encouraged the crowd to talk with her after the show, tweet at her, and as she flipped her massive curly hair to one side, to take photos on phones, too.

Adorned with a blazer, button up and two acoustic guitars Father John Misty took the stage soon after for a solo set. A bottle of red wine and a large glass loomed behind him on a stool. The stage lighting dimmed, and he started the night with probably the most popular song, “I’m Writing A Novel.” He seemed to have a similar sense of humor as Berlant, with adlibs and side comments during his songs and stage banter, from responding to audience comments to striking up conversational topics.

He ran through the entirety of Fear Fun, adding in thoughts here and there, without revealing too much insight into his songs. The crowd sang and clapped along to some favorites, like “Only Son of the Ladiesman” and “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings.” He did try out some new ones on us, and undoubtedly they were well-received. After briefly leaving stage through the center curtain, he returned for an encore of a handful of songs, one of which was an audience request.

Being able to experience Father John Misty sans band,as just Josh Tillman, put a new perspective on the music. Stripped down, it calls more attention to the range and power behind his voice, as well as stories he’s telling. The stage lighting was mostly one-directional, varying between white and red light depending on the song, amplifying the intimacy of the show with essentially mood lighting. The way the light reflected off the guitars was beautiful, and complimented the way shadows chiseled out Tillman’s hands and face.

In the middle of the set, he took off his jacket and, keeping it classy, hung it up conveniently on the single hanger on the coat rack on stage. Then, he proceeded to open the bottle of wine and pour into the over sized glass. Without acknowledging the glass was then overflowing, he continued to pour, emptying the bottle with the wine running evenly down the sides of the glass, onto the light-colored stool and collecting in puddles on the stage. Not taking a sip, he picked up a guitar and went into the next song. 

I’m very used to an overly processed experience at concerts– lights, projections, pedals, loops, et cetera, which, in its own context, can be done very well. I do highly suggest purging all that every now and then and cleansing with shows like this, minimalist and truly authentic. 

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