Father John Misty with Jessica Pratt at Marathon Music Works (5/10/2013) (BOAC Photos)
I first heard of this mysterious “Father” on a podcast hosted by Duncan Trussell back in August 2012 (which I strongly urge you to check out). Upon listening to the very deep and introspective conversation with Josh Tillman, I was absolutely enthralled by his humorous stories, clever wit and intelligent outlooks on the “the theater of the absurd” that we know as everyday society. The episode closed with the song “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings”, a track from his 2012 Sub Pop debut Fear Fun. My interest Josh’s new musical endeavor was immediately piqued and I had to hear more!
Since that day, Fear Fun has pretty much been in constant rotation on all of my musically enabled devices, sometimes with multiple spins of the full album within a day. I won’t go into a full review here, all I can say is that you really need to check out the album if you haven’t already…the addictive nature of his music is one that is often hard to come by in this day and age of media bombardment; although it may eventually cause you to question joining a support group, have no fear…his drug is a harmless one that you will be grateful for being introduced to and it can be enjoyed on a regular basis with no harmful effects to your health, family or friends…truly one of my favorite releases of 2012.
Back to the show…
The evening started with a quiet and enchanting set from San Francisco based singer/songwriter, Jessica Pratt. Her unique and intimate brand of throwback folk tunes (and a bit of coddling from Father J himself to show reverence during her set) had the crowd at complete attention. Jessica’s beautifully haunting vocal permeated through the still and nearly silent air of the venue in a way that almost seemed to conjure up the spirits of the 60s; those of whom have obviously played a huge role in influencing her eponymous debut album. I would say this little lady is bound for big things!!
As Tillman and band took to the stage, the crowd was in an immediate frenzy. After a few opening words, they broke into “Fun Times in Babylon”; elated fans on the front rail sang every word and clung to every movement as the slender framed vocalist dramatically strut himself around the stage.
This being my first time seeing him live, I wasn’t sure what to expect as far as stage presence. I had previously refrained from checking out videos of him performing, as to avoid any chance of shattering the perfection I experienced in listening to his record. I have to say though, to the delight of myself and the crowd, he is one lively, animated and all out entertaining son of a bitch! I mean, he was literally all over the place. Sauntering around in an almost theatrical fashion; posing in quite eccentric positions, swinging the mic stand in the air like a madman, frequently tugging from a bottle of bourbon and even extending himself into the crowd to meet the outstretched hand of an eager female fan with a kiss. His over the top antics on stage seem to perfectly compliment the often toungue-in-cheek, fun and free flowing nature of his music as a whole though. I wouldn’t say that Josh is a guy that takes himself too seriously; if anything, it seems that his theatrics are more a self-deprecating way of mocking that very behavior. After all, the dude is extremely hilarious and had the crowd buckling in fits of laughter between most songs.
The set was comprised almost entirely of the Fear Fun album, and there were no gripes with this whatsoever; I literally heard everything I came to hear! Also noteworthy, they busted out a cover of “Happiness Is A Warm Gun,” which also happens to be one of my favorite Beatles tunes and thus prompted me to film the obligatory cell phone video you see below. I believe they even did new song that will supposedly be on his new record too, but my memory was becoming a bit blurry at that point.
An interesting and somewhat disjointing moment came during the latter part of the set when Tillman tried to begin the encore with a solo acoustic song. There was a lot of crowd banter and he wound getting a bit annoyed and stopping the song, only for it to happen once again; thus killing any attempt at performing the song at all! This was somewhat ironic considering that the crowd had heeded his earlier request to remain respectful during Jessica Pratt’s set…he must have surpassed his allotment of “silence requests” for the evening, haha. Although it sucks that happened, he was even quite comical in his “pissed off” character as can be seen in this quote kindly transcribed by my friend Stephanie in her facebook status:
“What the f*ck?! Why’d you even come here tonight? To party? What, do you want me to play some f*ckn Black-Eyed Peas?!”
Haha, who knows if he was really as pissed as he let on to be…after all, Josh seems to be somewhat of a chameleon whose true form can be a bit tough to peg down at times. All I can say is that the form of Father John Misty is one that he should stick with for a while; incredibly talented and entertaining both live and on wax alike. If the Fear Fun album and this caliber of performance are a sign of what’s to come, I’d say we have some amazing things to look forward to from J. Tillman and Father John Misty here in the near future!
Check out a full photo gallery below!