Father John Misty Rants Against Entertainment
Father John Misty wasn't in much of a mood to sing at the XPoNentional Music Festival in Camden, N.J. yesterday (July 22). Instead, he only played two songs and, before that, spent several minutes lecturing the crowd about the dangers of entertainment and his own reliance on irony.
The blog for WXPN, the public radio station that puts on the festival, says that, upon taking the stage, Misty, whose real name is Josh Tillman, didn't take the guitar offered him by his manager and proceeded to talk, seemingly off-the-cuff. Pitchfork found a YouTube clip and some Instagam videos, beginning with where he took exception to the fact that the stage was set up in sight of a battleship.
“How entertaining should this be right now with a f---ing battleship in the background," he said in the video above, "and this s--- on TV, how f---ing fun should this be? How f---ing fun can it be? Can it be real in any sense? Like, I cannot play 'Bored in the U.S.A.' for you right now. No no no, because guess what? I soft-shoed that s--- into existence by going, ‘No no no, look over here. Put your self-awareness on. It’ll never actually be that bad because we’re too smart.’ And while we were looking in that direction, stupidity just f---ing runs the world because entertainment is stupid! Do you guys realize that?”
The audience did not necessarily know how to react, especially as he continued to recognize his own role in not being more engaged. “This f---ing irony. What do we do about this, man?" he continued in the Instagram clip below. "It's not enough to be, like, self-aware. ... It feels better to be angry than it does to be f---ing devastated that s--- looks the way it looks. [applause] No no no, don't even cheer for that. Maybe just take a moment to be really f---ing profoundly sad. It's a lot less sexy of a festival look.”
Misty, who romped with Lana Del Rey in her video for "Freak" earlier this year, was said by WXPN to have been ranting against an "entertaining tyrant” currently gaining headlines. "I mean, I can't even say it out loud," he continued in the Instagram clip below. "I always thought that it was going to look way more sophisticated than this when evil happened. When the collective consciousness was so numb and so f---ing sated and so gorged on entertainment."
After ranting for what was between six and 10 minutes, he improvised a 10-minute piece that continued on all those themes. Then he performed Leonard Cohen's "Bird on a Wire," told the crowd he loved them, and walked off stage, 30 minutes before the next act was scheduled to go on.
The battleship to which Misty referred is the U.S.S. New Jersey, which is docked on the Camden Waterfront, and is the most decorated battleship in American history. Launched in 1942, it served in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War before being decommissioned for the last time in 1991. Since 2001, it has served as a museum to its history.
UPDATE: Misty has issued an explanation for his behavior, saying in two Instagram posts that it was inspired by the "demonic clown pageant coronation of our next potential Idiot King."
2016 Summer Music Festival Guide