Sunday night at the High Noon Saloon, bearded indie weirdo Father John Misty turned cryptic disclosures about putting babies into ovens and wanting to be called “Nancy” into soaring ballads worthy of tender love-making sessions.
It was hard to tell if his performance was a plea, a confession, a social commentary, a profession of undying love or some bizarre, drug-fueled, radiant combination of them all. But whatever it was, it worked.
Though the recorded versions of the ex-Fleet Foxes drummer’s songs are saturated with bold, often ethereal background instrumentals, Misty stripped down for his “Solo” tour—somewhat literally, given the fact that his green pants featured a prominent tear in the crotch.
His voice was as warm and full-bodied as the bottle of red wine that sat unopened next to him most of the night; the only thing needed to accompany it was the strumming of his mellow guitar, clad with a strap embroidered with a unicorn and a rainbow (just let it happen).
Even “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings,” the spirited, obsessive croon from his debut album Fear Fun, about—you guessed it—having sex in a cemetery, was just as entrancing and even more haunting in acoustic form.
If anyone in the audience wasn’t won over by his musical abilities—and if such a person exists, please lock them away forever before I do something rash—Misty’s odd yet endearing between- and mid-song banter was enough to win over even the most skeptical listener.
One minute, for instance, he was explaining how much he enjoyed doing calisthenics in front of the Wisconsin State Capitol. Well, he’d do them if he knew what calisthenics were.
The next minute, he was commenting on the High Noon Saloon’s acoustic panels and, as a former maker of said panels, how he would improve them with a divot here and a piece of tucked-in fabric there.
Oh, and that aforementioned bottle of wine? Poured into a glass and allowed to overflow onto the wooden floor as part of a “one-act play” called “Dogs of War.” IT’S ART, OK?
Though these quips could have easily been distracting, somehow they just made sense. After all, you’re dealing with a man who opens a song with the lyrics:
“I ran down the road / Pants down to my knees / Screaming please come help me / That Canadian shaman gave a little too much to me / And I’m writing a novel / Because it’s never been done before.”
Get it? Me neither. But I think that’s the whole point.