Releasing four successful albums since 2012, Father John Misty has been a touring presence full of memorable, chatty songs ‘round these parts. He cracked jokes and cat-walked through a scorching 2015 ACL set, and recently blew the roof in 2017 at Bass Concert Hall.
Friday evening during ACL 2018, he wore an Elvis-style white suit, sunglasses at dusk, and even folks in the back knew the words to “Nancy From Now On.”

He’s a rock star more than ever, and this evening stage show shot for the moon—though it didn’t land. He featured string and horn players, but the expansive, baroque orchestration dragged the fun pace of love ballads like “Chateau Lobby.” And though they nicely punched up the dystopian future-dreading “Total Entertainment Forever” with horn stabs, the moving parts still seemed a half-step slow. And more buttoned-up. And boring—devoid of the paranoid energy that juices his best work.

“How’s everybody?” the singer born Josh Tillman asked after about 35 minutes.

Basically fine, thanks for asking, and mostly enjoying proceedings. But your songs over the past two records have become over-written—6-minute rides full of monologues. “Pure Comedy” is a dang one-man play; people tuned out during its lessons to side-chat about food. Luckily, he finished strong.

“I hate to say it, but each other’s all we got,” Misty quips at the end of “Pure Comedy.” The sentiment landed with onlookers as the sun went down.

The bard’s conversational style smoothed out and his philosophical musings landed with weight. Lines like “no one ever really knows you and life is brief” are still a gut punch.

“I Love You, Honeybear” still dragged, though.