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Anyone who was feeling a sense of dread over war erupting in eastern Europe certainly had come to the right place if they landed at Father John Misty’s one-off gig with the LA Philharmonic at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Not that Misty was about to bring up current events in his fairly reserved stage patter Friday night. But as someone with a catalog of archly gloomy lyrics that have occasionally veered toward the outrightly apocalyptic, Misty does seem like the kind of stoic whose shoulder you could cry on, or at least brood on, in the midst of a world-order-upending global crisis.

So it was possible to occasionally feel some sadness during Misty’s downtown L.A. show on a couple of different levels, one of them having to do with his lyrics’ fearlessness in considering humanity on “this godless rock that refuses to die” as a mass-extinction event.

And then, all existential melancholy aside, there was the sadness that came from thinking that this show was probably not being recorded for a live album, and that these 80 minutes might be the only time you’d ever get to hear these songs in lusher, luscious arrangements that often felt like the natural culmination of where they were always headed. Misty has already employed generous amounts of orchestration in his recorded catalog, and even took his own mini-orchestra out on tour in 2018, but those half- or three-quarter steps never sounded as good as what transpired Friday night. Of all the pop-rock/symphonic collaborations that the LA Phil and Hollywood Bowl Orchestra have specialized in over the last few years — and there have been some wonderful ones —  this felt like the most natural and probably the best.

Lazy loaded image
Father John Misty with the LA Philharmonic at Walt Disney Concert Hall Dustin Downing on behalf of the LA Phil

Misty has a fifth album coming out in April, “Chloë and the Next 20th Century,” that makes even more generous use of orchestral arrangements, so it might’ve been realistic to assume that he would use this Disney Hall show with the Phil to premiere some of that material. But for whatever reason, that wasn’t the case, and the only two songs Misty performed from the forthcoming release, “Funny Girl” and “Q4,” were the only two newbies to crash Friday’s 20-song setlist. Maybe he didn’t want to let the cats out of the bag prematurely, even with a ban on cell phone use in the auditorium. But there’s also the likelihood that this show has been on the books longer than the “Chloë” release; it seems to be an unofficial make-good for two shows that Misty was scheduled to do with the Phil at the Ford Theatre last summer, before the endurance of the pandemic intervened. But Father’s flock was not about to balk at a catalog show that felt brand new in its fashion, with several dozen additional players thrown into a mix that we likely won’t hear again, under the baton of

Anyone who was feeling a sense of dread over war erupting in eastern Europe certainly had come to the right place if they landed at Father John Misty’s one-off gig with the LA Philharmonic at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Not that Misty was about to bring up current events in his fairly reserved stage patter Friday night. But as someone with a catalog of archly gloomy lyrics that have occasionally veered toward the outrightly apocalyptic, Misty does seem like the kind of stoic whose shoulder you could cry on, or at least brood on, in the midst of a world-order-upending global crisis.

So it was possible to occasionally feel some sadness during Misty’s downtown L.A. show on a couple of different levels, one of them having to do with his lyrics’ fearlessness in considering humanity on “this godless rock that refuses to die” as a mass-extinction event.

And then, all existential melancholy aside, there was the sadness that came from thinking that this show was probably not being recorded for a live album, and that these 80 minutes might be the only time you’d ever get to hear these songs in lusher, luscious arrangements that often felt like the natural culmination of where they were always headed. Misty has already employed generous amounts of orchestration in his recorded catalog, and even took his own mini-orchestra out on tour in 2018, but those half- or three-quarter steps never sounded as good as what transpired Friday night. Of all the pop-rock/symphonic collaborations that the LA Phil and Hollywood Bowl Orchestra have specialized in over the last few years — and there have been some wonderful ones —  this felt like the most natural and probably the best.

Lazy loaded image
Father John Misty with the LA Philharmonic at Walt Disney Concert Hall Dustin Downing on behalf of the LA Phil

Misty has a fifth album coming out in April, “Chloë and the Next 20th Century,” that makes even more generous use of orchestral arrangements, so it might’ve been realistic to assume that he would use this Disney Hall show with the Phil to premiere some of that material. But for whatever reason, that wasn’t the case, and the only two songs Misty performed from the forthcoming release, “Funny Girl” and “Q4,” were the only two newbies to crash Friday’s 20-song setlist. Maybe he didn’t want to let the cats out of the bag prematurely, even with a ban on cell phone use in the auditorium. But there’s also the likelihood that this show has been on the books longer than the “Chloë” release; it seems to be an unofficial make-good for two shows that Misty was scheduled to do with the Phil at the Ford Theatre last summer, before the endurance of the pandemic intervened. But Father’s flock was not about to balk at a catalog show that felt brand new in its fashion, with several dozen additional players thrown into a mix that we likely won’t hear again, under the baton of

Anyone who was feeling a sense of dread over war erupting in eastern Europe certainly had come to the right place if they landed at Father John Misty’s one-off gig with the LA Philharmonic at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Not that Misty was about to bring up current events in his fairly reserved stage patter Friday night. But as someone with a catalog of archly gloomy lyrics that have occasionally veered toward the outrightly apocalyptic, Misty does seem like the kind of stoic whose shoulder you could cry on, or at least brood on, in the midst of a world-order-upending global crisis.

So it was possible to occasionally feel some sadness during Misty’s downtown L.A. show on a couple of different levels, one of them having to do with his lyrics’ fearlessness in considering humanity on “this godless rock that refuses to die” as a mass-extinction event.

And then, all existential melancholy aside, there was the sadness that came from thinking that this show was probably not being recorded for a live album, and that these 80 minutes might be the only time you’d ever get to hear these songs in lusher, luscious arrangements that often felt like the natural culmination of where they were always headed. Misty has already employed generous amounts of orchestration in his recorded catalog, and even took his own mini-orchestra out on tour in 2018, but those half- or three-quarter steps never sounded as good as what transpired Friday night. Of all the pop-rock/symphonic collaborations that the LA Phil and Hollywood Bowl Orchestra have specialized in over the last few years — and there have been some wonderful ones —  this felt like the most natural and probably the best.

Lazy loaded image
Father John Misty with the LA Philharmonic at Walt Disney Concert Hall Dustin Downing on behalf of the LA Phil

Misty has a fifth album coming out in April, “Chloë and the Next 20th Century,” that makes even more generous use of orchestral arrangements, so it might’ve been realistic to assume that he would use this Disney Hall show with the Phil to premiere some of that material. But for whatever reason, that wasn’t the case, and the only two songs Misty performed from the forthcoming release, “Funny Girl” and “Q4,” were the only two newbies to crash Friday’s 20-song setlist. Maybe he didn’t want to let the cats out of the bag prematurely, even with a ban on cell phone use in the auditorium. But there’s also the likelihood that this show has been on the books longer than the “Chloë” release; it seems to be an unofficial make-good for two shows that Misty was scheduled to do with the Phil at the Ford Theatre last summer, before the endurance of the pandemic intervened. But Father’s flock was not about to balk at a catalog show that felt brand new in its fashion, with several dozen additional players thrown into a mix that we likely won’t hear again, under the baton of Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser.

Given that the singer-songwriter has long provided glimpses, at least, of what any grander versions of his material might sound like, the additional elements felt more enriching than completely revelatory. Although Misty’s new look counted as the one minor shocker of the night, maybe: With a fresh buzzcut to go with his bushy beard, he looked like a member of a religious order, ironically, considering the irreligiosity of songs like the evolution-themed “Pure Comedy.” Other personal trademarks remained as he fronted a six-piece band as well as the orchestra: the dark suit; the penchant for pacing the stage on the balls of his feet, between cross-legged poses; the mellifluous voice that makes the stuff of panic sound weirdly soothing.

Misty did not offer much guidance as to what the audience’s dominant mood should be, beyond a sincere admiration for the beauty of Disney Hall and a few wisecracks that were so quiet as to draw laughs from the tiny portion of the audience that caught them. He got a chuckle with a nod to how many shows are being canceled because of musician or crew COVID occurrences these days, noting that it felt like they were “just one positive test away” from having the show re-billed as “The LA Phil Plays the Music of Father John Misty.'” And to the crowd — some of whom had paid high resale prices and traveled cross-country to catch this singular show — he said, “I know a lot of you have not been out in some time,” acknowledging that the colorful, hall-encompassing lighting design might fool some of them into thinking they were on mushrooms. He advised: “Just keep repeating, ‘I am loving awareness.'”

Lazy loaded image
Father John Misty at Walt Disney Concert Hall Dustin Downing on behalf of the LA Phil

For someone who’s identified with indie-rock, Misty can veer awfully close to easy listening, in the most impressive ways. At times his music goes down so smoothly, despite the unnerving undertones, you could kind of think of him as David Gates standing outside the gates of hell. Ineffable beauty is as big a part of his songwriting as disgust with humanity or mortal terror. He’s at his characteristic best — and the Phil was at its best in accentuating his peculiar balancing act — on a song like “The Palace,” where just a couple of chords go in a darker or more discordant direction than they would in the hands of just about any other songwriter with such a facility for a traditionally pretty melody. His aim isn’t always to throw you off like that, but no one has a better grasp on (to misquote “Hey Jude”) taking a sad song and making it spookier.

Many of the Phil’s fresh arrangements brought out musical undertones a fan might not have paid much heed to before — as in “Things It Would Have Been Helpful to Know Before the Revolution,” the most truly, literally end-of-the-world song of the night. The orchestra didn’t even come in till the second verse, but once it did, the Phil’s own horn section joined Misty’s two-man horn contingent to give this End Times lament a downright Burt Bacharach-esque lilt. When it came to the strings, their languorous moments made much of the night sound like a series of the most beautiful end-title themes Hollywood never knew it needed, but there was a big emphasis on pizzicato passages, too, rendering some of the interludes literally plucky.

The mix was just right in letting Misty’s band sound like a rock band; the fleeting electric guitar breaks have certainly been louder before, but there was no mute button put on a drum kit that put some real kick in all the proceedings. As always, Misty’s own band had its ’70s Mellow Gold moments — a comforting bit of rare slide guitar on “Ballad of the Dying Man,” followed by an even rarer bit of pedal steel on the following number, “Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Crow” —  but for the most part, Misty’s music remained, as ever, not particularly rooted in style, era or pastiche so much as a kind of cooly heartbroken romanticism.

Although the two 2022 songs weren’t enough to give the audience a strong sense of exactly what the full “Chloë and the Next 20th Century” album will be like, they certainly indicate a surprising sense of departure. The lyrics of the two songs veer farther away from the atheistic sermonizing of “Pure Comedy” and closer to the oddly character-driven than ever; all we know about the subjects of these two numbers for sure is that one is an actress whom the narrator seems to have both a crush on and some passive-aggressive disdain for, and the other has a book coming out that will make a break a publisher’s Christmas. (Are either of these songs period pieces, since “Funny Girl” references “Letterman” and “Q4” references a book division actually making a profit?) Musically, too, these new songs don’t rely much on anything you’d consider a Misty trope. “Funny Girl” uses its saxes to suggest a lazier side of the big-band music of the ’40s — certainly not an arrow he seemed to have hidden in his quiver before. But it doesn’t seem as though the rest of the album is destined to be a Glenn Miller homage of any sort. “Q4” uses some faux harpsichord (not to be confused with the Phil’s literal harp) that recalls some of the the baroque pop of the late ’60s.

Returning to familiar ground, the set proper came to a climax with the triple punch of “Pure Comedy” (and its punchline, “I hate to say it, but each other’s all we’ve got” — is that a promise or a threat?), “God’s Favorite Customer” (with an electric piano that nearly makes an agnostic metaphor into an actual gospel song) and the says-it-all “Holy Shit.” Then the LA Phil retreated gentle into that good night while Misty and his band returned for an orchestra-free three-song encore. The final number of this after-party: the short, punchy “Date Night,” one of the few real outright rockers in Misty’s catalog. “Here’s a real stupid one,” he said by way of introduction. After the previous 80 minutes of mostly gorgeous, glorious overthinking, he and the audience had earned these last couple of minutes of dumb fun.

So, about that live album…

Father John Misty’s Disney Hall setlist:

I Love You, Honeybear
Hangout at the Gallows
Mr. Tillman
Disappointing Diamonds Are the Rarest of Them All
Nancy From Now On
Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)
When You’re Smiling and Astride Me
Q4
Hollywood Forever Sings
Things It Would Have Been Helpful to Know Before the Revolution
Ballad of the Dying Man
Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Crow
The Pala

.

Given that the singer-songwriter has long provided glimpses, at least, of what any grander versions of his material might sound like, the additional elements felt more enriching than completely revelatory. Although Misty’s new look counted as the one minor shocker of the night, maybe: With a fresh buzzcut to go with his bushy beard, he looked like a member of a religious order, ironically, considering the irreligiosity of songs like the evolution-themed “Pure Comedy.” Other personal trademarks remained as he fronted a six-piece band as well as the orchestra: the dark suit; the penchant for pacing the stage on the balls of his feet, between cross-legged poses; the mellifluous voice that makes the stuff of panic sound weirdly soothing.

Misty did not offer much guidance as to what the audience’s dominant mood should be, beyond a sincere admiration for the beauty of Disney Hall and a few wisecracks that were so quiet as to draw laughs from the tiny portion of the audience that caught them. He got a chuckle with a nod to how many shows are being canceled because of musician or crew COVID occurrences these days, noting that it felt like they were “just one positive test away” from having the show re-billed as “The LA Phil Plays the Music of Father John Misty.'” And to the crowd — some of whom had paid high resale prices and traveled cross-country to catch this singular show — he said, “I know a lot of you have not been out in some time,” acknowledging that the colorful, hall-encompassing lighting design might fool some of them into thinking they were on mushrooms. He advised: “Just keep repeating, ‘I am loving awareness.'”

Lazy loaded image
Father John Misty at Walt Disney Concert Hall Dustin Downing on behalf of the LA Phil

For someone who’s identified with indie-rock, Misty can veer awfully close to easy listening, in the most impressive ways. At times his music goes down so smoothly, despite the unnerving undertones, you could kind of think of him as David Gates standing outside the gates of hell. Ineffable beauty is as big a part of his songwriting as disgust with humanity or mortal terror. He’s at his characteristic best — and the Phil was at its best in accentuating his peculiar balancing act — on a song like “The Palace,” where just a couple of chords go in a darker or more discordant direction than they would in the hands of just about any other songwriter with such a facility for a traditionally pretty melody. His aim isn’t always to throw you off like that, but no one has a better grasp on (to misquote “Hey Jude”) taking a sad song and making it spookier.

Many of the Phil’s fresh arrangements brought out musical undertones a fan might not have paid much heed to before — as in “Things It Would Have Been Helpful to Know Before the Revolution,” the most truly, literally end-of-the-world song of the night. The orchestra didn’t even come in till the second verse, but once it did, the Phil’s own horn section joined Misty’s two-man horn contingent to give this End Times lament a downright Burt Bacharach-esque lilt. When it came to the strings, their languorous moments made much of the night sound like a series of the most beautiful end-title themes Hollywood never knew it needed, but there was a big emphasis on pizzicato passages, too, rendering some of the interludes literally plucky.

The mix was just right in letting Misty’s band sound like a rock band; the fleeting electric guitar breaks have certainly been louder before, but there was no mute button put on a drum kit that put some real kick in all the proceedings. As always, Misty’s own band had its ’70s Mellow Gold moments — a comforting bit of rare slide guitar on “Ballad of the Dying Man,” followed by an even rarer bit of pedal steel on the following number, “Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Crow” —  but for the most part, Misty’s music remained, as ever, not particularly rooted in style, era or pastiche so much as a kind of cooly heartbroken romanticism.

Although the two 2022 songs weren’t enough to give the audience a strong sense of exactly what the full “Chloë and the Next 20th Century” album will be like, they certainly indicate a surprising sense of departure. The lyrics of the two songs veer farther away from the atheistic sermonizing of “Pure Comedy” and closer to the oddly character-driven than ever; all we know about the subjects of these two numbers for sure is that one is an actress whom the narrator seems to have both a crush on and some passive-aggressive disdain for, and the other has a book coming out that will make a break a publisher’s Christmas. (Are either of these songs period pieces, since “Funny Girl” references “Letterman” and “Q4” references a book division actually making a profit?) Musically, too, these new songs don’t rely much on anything you’d consider a Misty trope. “Funny Girl” uses its saxes to suggest a lazier side of the big-band music of the ’40s — certainly not an arrow he seemed to have hidden in his quiver before. But it doesn’t seem as though the rest of the album is destined to be a Glenn Miller homage of any sort. “Q4” uses some faux harpsichord (not to be confused with the Phil’s literal harp) that recalls some of the the baroque pop of the late ’60s.

Returning to familiar ground, the set proper came to a climax with the triple punch of “Pure Comedy” (and its punchline, “I hate to say it, but each other’s all we’ve got” — is that a promise or a threat?), “God’s Favorite Customer” (with an electric piano that nearly makes an agnostic metaphor into an actual gospel song) and the says-it-all “Holy Shit.” Then the LA Phil retreated gentle into that good night while Misty and his band returned for an orchestra-free three-song encore. The final number of this after-party: the short, punchy “Date Night,” one of the few real outright rockers in Misty’s catalog. “Here’s a real stupid one,” he said by way of introduction. After the previous 80 minutes of mostly gorgeous, glorious overthinking, he and the audience had earned these last couple of minutes of dumb fun.

So, about that live album…

Father John Misty’s Disney Hall setlist:

I Love You, Honeybear
Hangout at the Gallows
Mr. Tillman
Disappointing Diamonds Are the Rarest of Them All
Nancy From Now On
Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)
When You’re Smiling and Astride Me
Q4
Hollywood Forever Sings
Things It Would Have Been Helpful to Know Before the Revolution
Ballad of the Dying Man
Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Crow
The Pala

.

Given that the singer-songwriter has long provided glimpses, at least, of what any grander versions of his material might sound like, the additional elements felt more enriching than completely revelatory. Although Misty’s new look counted as the one minor shocker of the night, maybe: With a fresh buzzcut to go with his bushy beard, he looked like a member of a religious order, ironically, considering the irreligiosity of songs like the evolution-themed “Pure Comedy.” Other personal trademarks remained as he fronted a six-piece band as well as the orchestra: the dark suit; the penchant for pacing the stage on the balls of his feet, between cross-legged poses; the mellifluous voice that makes the stuff of panic sound weirdly soothing.

Misty did not offer much guidance as to what the audience’s dominant mood should be, beyond a sincere admiration for the beauty of Disney Hall and a few wisecracks that were so quiet as to draw laughs from the tiny portion of the audience that caught them. He got a chuckle with a nod to how many shows are being canceled because of musician or crew COVID occurrences these days, noting that it felt like they were “just one positive test away” from having the show re-billed as “The LA Phil Plays the Music of Father John Misty.'” And to the crowd — some of whom had paid high resale prices and traveled cross-country to catch this singular show — he said, “I know a lot of you have not been out in some time,” acknowledging that the colorful, hall-encompassing lighting design might fool some of them into thinking they were on mushrooms. He advised: “Just keep repeating, ‘I am loving awareness.'”

Lazy loaded image
Father John Misty at Walt Disney Concert Hall Dustin Downing on behalf of the LA Phil

For someone who’s identified with indie-rock, Misty can veer awfully close to easy listening, in the most impressive ways. At times his music goes down so smoothly, despite the unnerving undertones, you could kind of think of him as David Gates standing outside the gates of hell. Ineffable beauty is as big a part of his songwriting as disgust with humanity or mortal terror. He’s at his characteristic best — and the Phil was at its best in accentuating his peculiar balancing act — on a song like “The Palace,” where just a couple of chords go in a darker or more discordant direction than they would in the hands of just about any other songwriter with such a facility for a traditionally pretty melody. His aim isn’t always to throw you off like that, but no one has a better grasp on (to misquote “Hey Jude”) taking a sad song and making it spookier.

Many of the Phil’s fresh arrangements brought out musical undertones a fan might not have paid much heed to before — as in “Things It Would Have Been Helpful to Know Before the Revolution,” the most truly, literally end-of-the-world song of the night. The orchestra didn’t even come in till the second verse, but once it did, the Phil’s own horn section joined Misty’s two-man horn contingent to give this End Times lament a downright Burt Bacharach-esque lilt. When it came to the strings, their languorous moments made much of the night sound like a series of the most beautiful end-title themes Hollywood never knew it needed, but there was a big emphasis on pizzicato passages, too, rendering some of the interludes literally plucky.

The mix was just right in letting Misty’s band sound like a rock band; the fleeting electric guitar breaks have certainly been louder before, but there was no mute button put on a drum kit that put some real kick in all the proceedings. As always, Misty’s own band had its ’70s Mellow Gold moments — a comforting bit of rare slide guitar on “Ballad of the Dying Man,” followed by an even rarer bit of pedal steel on the following number, “Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Crow” —  but for the most part, Misty’s music remained, as ever, not particularly rooted in style, era or pastiche so much as a kind of cooly heartbroken romanticism.

Although the two 2022 songs weren’t enough to give the audience a strong sense of exactly what the full “Chloë and the Next 20th Century” album will be like, they certainly indicate a surprising sense of departure. The lyrics of the two songs veer farther away from the atheistic sermonizing of “Pure Comedy” and closer to the oddly character-driven than ever; all we know about the subjects of these two numbers for sure is that one is an actress whom the narrator seems to have both a crush on and some passive-aggressive disdain for, and the other has a book coming out that will make a break a publisher’s Christmas. (Are either of these songs period pieces, since “Funny Girl” references “Letterman” and “Q4” references a book division actually making a profit?) Musically, too, these new songs don’t rely much on anything you’d consider a Misty trope. “Funny Girl” uses its saxes to suggest a lazier side of the big-band music of the ’40s — certainly not an arrow he seemed to have hidden in his quiver before. But it doesn’t seem as though the rest of the album is destined to be a Glenn Miller homage of any sort. “Q4” uses some faux harpsichord (not to be confused with the Phil’s literal harp) that recalls some of the the baroque pop of the late ’60s.

Returning to familiar ground, the set proper came to a climax with the triple punch of “Pure Comedy” (and its punchline, “I hate to say it, but each other’s all we’ve got” — is that a promise or a threat?), “God’s Favorite Customer” (with an electric piano that nearly makes an agnostic metaphor into an actual gospel song) and the says-it-all “Holy Shit.” Then the LA Phil retreated gentle into that good night while Misty and his band returned for an orchestra-free three-song encore. The final number of this after-party: the short, punchy “Date Night,” one of the few real outright rockers in Misty’s catalog. “Here’s a real stupid one,” he said by way of introduction. After the previous 80 minutes of mostly gorgeous, glorious overthinking, he and the audience had earned these last couple of minutes of dumb fun.

So, about that live album…

Father John Misty’s Disney Hall setlist:

I Love You, Honeybear
Hangout at the Gallows
Mr. Tillman
Disappointing Diamonds Are the Rarest of Them All
Nancy From Now On
Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)
When You’re Smiling and Astride Me
Q4
Hollywood Forever Sings
Things It Would Have Been Helpful to Know Before the Revolution
Ballad of the Dying Man
Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Crow
The Palace
Funny Girl
Pure Comedy
God’s Favorite Customer
Holy Shit

Encore (sans LA Phil):
Funtimes in Babylon
Total Entertainment Forever
Date Night