Father John Misty – Live at the Tabernacle

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This was my second time seeing Josh Tillman, aka Father John Misty, and both were sell outs.  I like his music, and he has a great voice.  His lyrics drip, or perhaps weep, expressing his loves and failures, and this without a filter other than to fit them to a singable prose.  He’s also an extroverted performer.  So, why not see him again?


Before I say anything further, Tess and Dave were the opening act.  Dave can be observed stealing a few moves for the featured act in the way that he acts out the lyrics, and Tess adds a nice vocal contrast to his.  Beyond that, they were entertaining.  They had dance moves, most often deliberately kitschy, and their music might be categorized as head scratching psychedelic folk, the head scratching from the mix of songs, the entertaining but awkward presentation, playing to a backing tape and a surprisingly lively space jam at the end.  In other words, the perfect opening act – something that begs attention from the general din.


They also happen to be members of FJM’s band.  So, when it’s time for the smooth stepping, Jesus haired approximation of male sensuality to take the stage, the tease was on from the start via careful backlighting that was featured through many of the songs.


Ah, there he is.  Compared to most of the shows I frequent, the artist’s testosterone upped the female attendance significantly, though, apparently, many men also wallow in the mire of FJM’s experience of romantic oughts, relationship failures,  self doubts, cynicism, and theological rejections.  Among others.


Concerts include more than lyrics and music.   It’s more of a vibe created by what the artist chooses to share – or in this case, what the little that he chooses not to.  Self absorption, for better or worse, may fascinate in artistry or exhaust those around him if there’s a lack of respite.  Who knows?  Maybe the guy is fun to chat with over a beer in the wee hours when a bar is free of distractions.


But there’s also the energy.  However tall he is, the man has great knees.  He jumps, he falls down to them, he folds himself back to the floor, up… down… up… down.  Whatever he’s feeling, he extrapolates it with movement.  And, if there’s any measure of self-control, it’s picking up a guitar every other song to gather his breath and generally ease the risk of spontaneous combustion when he’s otherwise cavorting on the stage.


And cavorting is an appropriate word, because aside from the general tenor of his songs and his performance of them, he takes on, as my concert buddy quickly observed, a Jim Morrison aura of mutual infatuation with an audience that, were it not for a plane to the next gig, might otherwise find its logical conclusion in mass Epicurean debauchery. 


Because… I can’t imagine how someone so gifted and exposed, charting the course that he lives and or describes, doesn’t ultimately fall to his real or imagined vices and flame out.  Maybe, those self-survival needs are met with the celebrity complex, preening in front of enthusiastic fans and the laying on of hands.



At least, that’s what it seemed this night.  Otherwise, he’s a fine musician and puts on a heck of a show… a show that goes on after the songs are over… dancing to Drake music well after his band has left the stage and the balconies take an exit.



Set list:

Everyman Needs a Companion
Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings
When You’re Smiling and Astride Me
Only Son of the Ladies Man
Tee Pees 1-12
Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Cow
Funtimes in Babylon
Nancy From Now On
Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)
I’m Writing a Novel
Now I’m Learning to Love the War
Bored in the USA
Holy Shit
True Affection
This is Sally Hatchet


I went to the Store One Day
Closer (Nine Inch Nails cover)
The Ideal Husband

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