Review by: Haylie Presnell
Photos by: Haylie Presnell and Kaley Barnhill
There was a line that wrapped around almost an entire block on Thursday night in wait to see Father John Misty at the Royal Oak Music Theater.
As concertgoers filed in to the spacious venue, their excitement for the night’s performance began to wane as the crowd waited an hour for the night’s openers, Mikal Cronin, to show up and play.
When Mikal Cronin did come out to play, he and his band immediately skipped their sound check and jumped right into some loud raucous indie tunes in an attempt to make up for the audience’s silent wait.
Unfortunately for the opener, their skipped sound check seemed to hurt their performance. Some audience members remarked that most of the set sounded the same and anything that could differentiate the songs from one another was lost in what sounded like too much reverb on the guitars.
Their sound and their lack of banter (and lack of introduction to what song they were playing at the time) left many attendees bored and confused. Many left to go visit the merchandise table near the entrance or just went to get booze. At that point, the floor looked even scarcer of concertgoers than it was when the opener first began to play – which was odd since this show had been generating a lot of buzz over the past previous weeks.
That all changed when Mikal Cronin walked off stage. Suddenly, the entire floor had begun to shift closer to the barricade to get closer to the stage. The audience wasn’t necessarily packed like sardines, but there was certainly a sense of urgency in packing closer to one another to see Father John Misty.
During the opener’s set teardown and the headliner’s sound check, the audience grooved and danced to tunes that seemed to have been pulled straight from a western film. After about 45 minutes, the lights dimmed and sensual French funk music began to play. The stage was illuminated with red light and then Father John Misty emerged with a sensual aura that made the ladies in the audience swoon.
Immediately, he dove right into crowd-favorite “I Love You, Honeybear” – dropping to his knees when he sang the song’s more passionate lines. The crowd loved FJM’s crazy antics: jumping off the drum set, sliding on his knees, and his snarl when he sang “you fuck the world damn straight malaise” complimented with his flipping the bird.
FJM went on to play “Strange Encounter,” “True Affection,” and “Only Son of the Ladiesman” before stopping and having a discussion with his audience. Asking if there were any couples in the audience, FJM jokingly inquired if this was their first meeting outside of the online world and if the “façade” had fallen yet. He then dedicated “When You’re Smiling Astride Me” to those couples.
More tunes were played and FJM performed each song with as much passion and confidence as its predecessor and the crowd jammed along to each one. The entire theater went full sing-along when FJM finally performed “Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)” and everyone in the venue seemed to be glowing.
The setting got intimate when FJM began to play his self-proclaimed “meta-ballad,” “Bored in the USA.” The crowd laughed and cheered at the sarcastic presentation of the song as well as its dark humor. It was at this point FJM took a concertgoer’s iPhone and began to take video of him singing along with the audience. Unsatisfied with the first video, FJM actually redid the last stanza of the song before returning the fan’s phone.
FJM cranked out six more songs which included “This is Sally Hatchet” and “Funtimes in Babylon” before briefly leaving the stage ahead of his encore. After “Everyman Needs a Companion,” Father John Misty went around and shook as many fan’s hands as he could, ultimately making the night a memorable intimate experience, sure to happen on future tours.