Despite expecting his particular brand of unwitting charisma and magnetism, I couldn’t help but smile as soon as Father John Misty strolled on stage. Before the spotlights came on at the 9:30 Club on Saturday night (3/38), Josh Tillman – aka Father John Misty – leapt right in with his latest hit, “I Love You, Honeybear.”
He stood before his six-man band backlit only by sparse red lights shining up from the ground and crooned my favorite lines from this particular love song:
Everything is doomed,
and nothing will be spared.
– “I Love You, Honeybear”
From the visual alone, it might have felt like a bar/lounge scene from the ‘50s, but he countered that atmospheric vibe by sinking to his knees to sing to the front row and periodically lifting the mic stand into the air. It was melodic, yet energetic. It was funny, but somehow cool.
At one point during the opening number, he stood on the drum set before the neon “No Photography” heart-shaped sign, arms up and back to the audience, swinging his hips between the lines.
Tillman is tall, skinny, angular to the point wherein his slow-swinging dance moves seemed as sharply punctuated as his witty lyrics. Yet he didn’t seem spastic, just casual and unaffected; cool – yet odd – without trying.
And where off-brand humor can sometimes feel forced or contrived, his is neither – in his lyrics or in his words to the audience that night.
Later, Tillman cocked a hip and tucked a hand in his jacket pocket as he scanned the crowd. “Yabadabadoo,” he said. “I usually fuck up when I’m here. So I’ll just – not do that tonight.”
Spoiler alert: He didn’t.
Instead, he amped up the crowd with his upbeat indie folk tracks from Fear Fun (2012), like “I’m Writing a Novel,” and transitioned easily into head-banging folk rock songs from his latest album, I Love You, Honeybear (2015), like “The Ideal Husband.”
He said later, “We’ll laugh and cry. I’ll expose some hitherto unexposed part of my being.”
And it sounded as if others in the crowd felt the same. My cousin overheard the man behind us say, “I feel awesome! But – I also feel like a train off the tracks.”
This pretty much encompasses to a tee the result of not just listening through the Father John Misty albums, but also experiencing the tracks live.
Once the standard set ended, the band returned for the encore. Tillman said, “The promoter told me, ‘Your time’s up, Tillman.’ I told him, ‘D.C. is out there beggin’ for it.”
And D.C. was indeed begging for it if the resounding cheers were any indication.
He noticed this throughout the show and observed lightly, “So many positive affirmations.” To be fair, they were all well-deserved.
The night eventually closed with “Every Man Needs a Companion,” with Tillman saying, “Ok. This is farewell – in song.”
Well, we wouldn’t want it any other way.
Upcoming Tour Dates
I’m so sorry if you missed Saturday’s show at the 9:30 Club because his next four shows are already sold out in Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Minnesota. However, there’s still time to nab tickets for his shows at the following venues:
4/5: Iowa City, Iowa @ The Englert
4/7: Lawrence, KS @ The Granada Theater
4/8: Omaha, NE @ Royale Boston
If you can’t catch him then, you can see him at the Coachella Music Festival (weekends 1 and 2), where dreams come true.
Check out his site’s page – entitled “I’M COMING TO YOUR TOWN/BRING YOUR iPHONE” for other tour dates.