May 28, 2017

Father John Misty Stirs Emotion out of Vancouver Crowd

father john misty nightmair creative

I’m just going to get this out of the way now so I can go on with the rest of the review, Father John Misty has an amazing voice.

Something interesting happens at an outdoor concert. In a club everyone is packed inside like a can of sardines, theatres are designed to maximize sound quality and stadiums are built to accommodate enormous crowds. But at a venue like the Malkin Bowl, you get a particularly unique experience. The crowd sits down on the grass, buys a beer, watches the sun go down and enjoys the show. There are bugs and leaves and dirt and grass, things that are so foreign to a club or a theatre. This environment creates an interesting relaxed, sort of dozy energy.

This is Father John Misty’s wheelhouse. I’m not saying FJM plays dozy or even relaxed music. Because he doesn’t. But at this Friday’s show, FJM took control of the Malkin Bowl’s lazy energy and used it as fuel to drive his performance into the beautiful spring evening.

After a power outage almost derailed the show, Father John Misty got things going. Starting with ‘Pure Comedy’, the titular first song off of his new album, Pure Comedy, FJM pushed through the first seven songs on that album, employing all the devices one needs to recreate the album in a live setting, piano ballads, a rustic sounding acoustic guitar, soaring lead guitar riffs, a mini-orchestra (really? YES, REALLY) and of course his own beautiful voice.

Hearing the album being played in person is different from hearing it on your speakers. The weight and emotion of the songs hit you a little harder. During ‘Total Entertainment Forever’, at the beginning of FJM’s set, I had a little emotional reaction to the music, feeling the sadness and the love in his lyrics. It also helps that FJM is a consummate performer, singing the hell out of his songs even after jumping into the crowd a couple times.

The Pure Comedy songs were great, and I think everyone in the crowd was enjoying them but FJM won over the crowd when he got into his back catalogue. Ripping into ‘Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings’ on electric guitar got an ovation and stirred the crowd into a frenzy. And, I think the crowd favourite of the night was ‘I Love You, Honeybear’. Not just those but also ‘Strange Encounters’ and ‘Funtimes In Babylon’ elicited huge reactions from the crowd.

Father John Misty and his band pushed themselves to put on a great show, and in the idyllic setting provided by the Malkin Bowl, it was well worth the cost of admission. Thanks for reading.

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written by Conor Graham



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