We’ve already talked about how specifically Japanese acts may not connect in the way they’ve intended to foreign punters at the festival. However, Father John Misty’s early evening performance at the Field of Heaven demonstrates pretty much the opposite: How an artist flies over the head of the local audience and talks directly to those who understand where he’s coming from.
This particular truth was illustrated abruptly after the fourth song of the set. Misty apologized for all the “American and English” fans in the audience who were screaming out favorites and generally making a nuisance of themselves. “Silence make us very nervous,” he said, in deference to the Japanese audience’s…deference.
He had a point but also missed it. What’s mainly prominent in Misty’s show is the dramatic, performative element that becomes the kernel of his point. Basically, Misty is Kenny Loggins trapped in the body of an r&b sex god, and Misty exaggerated this quality to such a degrees that the Japanese fans in the audience could only look on in awed bewilderment, but the gaijin knew exactly what he was talking about when he sexualized the forest background and talked about getting it on with his significant other in a tent on the edge of Fuji Rock. It was perfect: He was localizing his musical sensibility, but, unfortunately, only the foreigners understood what he was getting at.
But drama always succeeds. The best joke in Misty’s arsenal is the fact that his band looke like variations of him: besuited, hirsute, white to the point of embarrasment. And while his sexual component is obviously a ruse, it’s also effective. During one song, I noticed two Caucasian women dancing with each other in sexual abandon and mouthing the lyrics to the song. That’s attraction.
And then there was “Honey Bear,” the epitome of his psycho-sexual ouevre, a song that he sang as if he were James Brown, kneeling and pleading with his love for her sexual favors, and even the Japanese caught on to the story. Though the crowd was relatively small, the reaction was nuclear. People erupted, they spent themselves.