“Luckily, I get an erection from phones being pointed at me.” Father John Misty told the Royal Oak Music Theatre crowd, ironically standing in front of his neon “No Photography” sign. FJM was referencing the concert culture of filming everything at a live show, which, despite his sexual arousal, is an obvious annoyance. The unfortunate reality is FJM has such an incredible stage performance that would create a memorable series of Youtube clips, yet he refuses to embrace it.
Father John Misty began shaking his hips, belting out the high notes, and crumbling to his knees and that was the just the opening song “I Love You, Honeybear.” From there, FJM and his 5-piece backing band rolled right into the next couple of old-school country sounding tunes, but with much stranger lyrics.
Speaking of Old School, the most enjoyable thing about Father John is incredulous look on the face of novice fans (including myself) when they hear some of his lyrics. Similar to the Frank the Tank wedding scene in Old School when he and his wife could’ve sworn they heard The Dan Band drop an F-bomb in “Total Eclipse of the Heart.”
“Did I just hear ‘When you beg me to choke you’?” Yes. Yes, you did.
Father John Misty comes off as what you can imagine Zach Galifanakis would be like if he was a rock star. The beard, the long hair, the deadpan delivery, it’s basically Galifanakis if he was taller and a great singer. The best part of Father John opening for Alabama Shakes back in June, were the quips he had with the audience in between songs, it was what I was most looking forward to for this performance.
He wasn’t quite as talkative this time around, but he was entertaining nonetheless. After one of his handful of songs end with a flurry of noise and lights, he remarked, “Thank you. Now for something considerably less hopeful.” Later, during his encore solo performance, a few audience members did the obligatory “woooo,” over an otherwise quiet moment, Father John immediately came in with, “Thank you, I appreciate it, but could you shut up? Not many other people here appreciate it.” So dark and depressing that he had to be joking…right?
The highlight of the show, besides the dark, depressing comments to the crowd, was the last song before the encore, “The Ideal Husband.” An absolutely mind-blowing supernova of music, lights, and energy concluded with FJM roaring into the mic like a man was if not hurt, definitely frustrated with his woman. He concluded by slamming the mic stand down and walking off stage to a deafening ovation. We had the standard 3-4 minutes off stage before coming back for an encore.
“This is highly unprecedented,” he deadpanned. “They told me backstage the show was over, but I said ‘No. I am an iconoclast. I don’t follow the rules. I am a man of the people. ‘ The show must go on… so now I’m going to play my most sensitive ballad”
Father John Misty does more than just give you a musical experience you have never seen before; he gives you a whole night you have never experienced before. He was breaking rules, breaking hearts, and probably breaking a few mic stands.