"Victory in the desert," Father John Misty said in response to the batsh-t crowd applause for "I'm Writing a Novel," which had the former Fleet Foxes drummer leading a country-rock tornado. He dipped and fell in Shakespearean drama, rolled on the stage, hip- and ass-shaked and nailed every note with extra vigor. I've seen him perform 6 times, but never rock this hard.
Outside the Gobi Tent, a apocolyptic sand storm was brewing (seriously, it was like Dune), but inside Father John Misty, aka Josh Tillman, stood tall and thin in white pants and a printed button-up. With his flowing beard and long hair, he looked like a night club crooner crossed with Jim Morrison.
He performed tracks from his debut album, 2012's Fear Fun, and the crowd ate up the brain-warped folk sounds and absurdist lyrics: "I would like to abuse my lungs / Smoke everything in sight with every girl I've ever loved," on "Funtimes in Babylon"; "I ran down the road, pants down to my knees / That Canadian shaman gave a little too much to me," on "I'm Writing a Novel"; "Pour me another drink and punch me in the face, you can call me Nancy," on "Nancy From Now On."
These wise-cracking lyrics were paired with floating strings, piano swells and country-crunchy guitar licks. Hey, there's a reason Fear Fun is one of the best albums of last year.
"Dude, I've never heard of this guy," a kid bumming a cigarette nearby said. "He's f-cking awesome." Indeed.
He's also a damn comedian between songs. Here are the best quotes from onstage.
--"I'm gonna tuck this sh-t in," Misty said of his long sleeve button-up shirt. "I gotta bring my A-game."
--"So, white pants. I thought I was gonna be looking at the JumboTron and seeing my grass-stained ass."
--"This thing is called a laptop," he says picking up an acoustic guitar.
"Take a moment, safety first: Does everyone have a lightsaber? Get one for you and your family."
--"You know what this place needs? An Applebees and some neon lights."
--"Sometimes I wish I could perform in a robot helmet."
--"You guys hear about the Father John Misty hologram? But it was actually an android, performing while Josh [his real name] sat and drank in L.A. He had the same bad humor, too."
--"These laptops are so confusing."
--"We're about to play some real sh-t. Welcome R. Kelly to the stage."
--"I really wanna play one more song, but first I'm gonna start drinking this beer." Then he spit it in the air.