Father John Misty turns in a pool performance for all time

Father John Misty performs at the Boulevard Pool on Thursday, October 15.
Erik Kabik

Four stars

Father John Misty October 15, Boulevard Pool.

I was more excited to see opener Mikal Cronin than headliner Father John Misty Thursday night at the Cosmopolitan—something about the latter’s recordings hadn’t really resonated with me. But 18 songs and almost two hours later, the lanky, bearded performer had won my heart completely. Father John, also known as J. Tillman, delivered every song at the highest level of intensity, writhing on the floor and dancing on the kick drum, throwing his entire body—not to mention his unbelievable range—into his performance, from the opening song to the very last.

Before that theatrical bombast began, Cronin and his four-piece band took the stage, giving the crowd a poppier, sunnier version of his recorded self. I expected something rougher around the edges, so the set fell short—in part due to an underwhelming sound mix dominated by bass and kick drum and with virtually no keyboard at all. Fortunately, Father John Misty brought his own sound guy, which made for one of the crystal-clearest sets I’ve heard at the Boulevard Pool.

Opening with “I Love You, Honeybear” from the February album of the same name, Tillman then grabbed an acoustic guitar and played two more off that record before diverting to “Only Son of the Ladiesman” from 2012’s Fear Fun. We didn’t get any Taylor Swift covers, but I didn’t miss them. During “Bored in the USA,” Tillman commanded the crowd’s attention as he lamented about a useless education and prescription pills, and we got another lesson on consumerism, religion and heartache on “Holy Sh*t,” as Tillman sang, “And love is just an institution based on human frailty/What’s your paradise gotta do with Adam and Eve?/Maybe love is just an economy based on resource scarcity.”

“I was worrying maybe my thing was too subtle for Vegas, but it seems there’s room for sophistication,” Tillman said, predicting he’ll be here in 20 years, singing in a lounge and “living on buffet” with Britney Spears. “I’ll blow that b*tch out of the water.” Tillman’s salty banter and eccentricity actually made for one of the most Vegas-y shows I’ve witnessed—over the top, wildly entertaining, even awkwardly sexy. As outlandish as the idea of a Father John Misty residency might be, his Cosmo gig had me wishing someone would book him here for a week or more. That’s a show I’d pay to see over and over again.

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Leslie Ventura is a staff writer at Las Vegas Weekly and Industry Weekly. She’s picked the brains of rock stars ...

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