Loaded with couples in each other’s arms, The Forum feels overtly romantic for a Thursday night. Cam Avery aids this feeling too. Shrouded by mist and spilling Americana-tinged tales of love with an Aussie accent, the culture clash is (luckily) more endearing than it is jarring.
A spoken word piece — backed by looped vocals and featuring a bluesy a cappella chorus — details the story of finding love at ‘the tracks’, and ends with a married couple opening a bar in Savannah. It’s hard to tell if it’s sincere, or simply an homage.
Surely Avery doesn’t always sing about America when he’s playing with Pond. It doesn’t matter though, as the line between sincere and pastiche is where Joshua Tillman (aka Father John Misty) also sits, making Avery’s crooning set a fitting puzzle piece for a night full of blurred lines.
Avery is more emotionally transparent than Misty though, imbuing fictional narratives with lived emotions, as opposed to the guessing game Misty leaves you playing when it comes to his true feelings.
When Father John Misty walks on stage, he’s exuding smugness. It’s almost unbearable. Launching straight into I Love You, Honeybear, he gyrates, gets down on his knees and makes you wonder how serious he really is. For a song that seems to take the piss out of love while simultaneously embracing it as the only thing worth living for, it’s odd watching couples react throughout The Forum. When it’s over, a couple in front of me kiss and it doesn’t seem real.
By the time Misty reaches True Affection, the act starts to wear off. The lines between Father John Misty and Joshua Tillman are less defined, leaving less time to worry about how ‘authentic’ it feels, and more time o enjoy his considerable talents. His falsetto sounds even better live. It fills the room. His voice is rich like honey.
By the time Misty reaches Bored in the USA, it’s hard to deny his magnetism. Hamming it up as much as possible, he physically mimes lyrics while giving the crowd a deadpan stare. Even the fake applause from the record plays out live. It feels vaguely unsettling while being very funny. The perfect summation of Misty’s entire aesthetic.
After closing the set with a surprising cacophony of noise, Misty comes back on stage. Not to play a song, but to do what feels like a stand-up set, with added questions from the audience. Topics covered include Olive Garden (this didn’t go down too well in Olive Garden-less Australia), butt play and why he uses an alter ego — It’s to help him comes to terms with sex stuff by the way, if you take his word for it that is.
It’s not quite over though, as there’s still time for a gorgeous version of We Met At The Store. A rare moment of complete sincerity from the sarcastic singer, the touching lyrics filled with everyday details of a love story ring true with the crowd of couples. They probably all met at stores too.
Father John Misty performs at Meredith Music Festival on 12th December.
Gallery: Father John Misty + Cam Avery – The Forum, Melbourne 10.12.15 / Photos: Nikki Williams