Father John Misty
The Glass House
It's been just over a year since Josh Tillman released his debut full-length, Fear Fun, under his new moniker Father John Misty, and in the past 365+ days he's lived out of a van, on the road, preaching his gospel of adulterous fun times to the masses. Fourteen months later, he's playing at Pomona's Glass House for the last night of a seemingly never-ending tour.
Almost exactly six months ago, Tillman and his band played at Los Angeles' El Rey Theatre, and on Saturday night anyone who had seen his previous SoCal performance would note that he looked a little tired — His curly locks drooped a bit lower; his beard was almost to the point of disheveled; he ditched his flamboyant suit for an innocuous plaid button-up and slacks; his face looked weathered — but despite the physical repercussions of life on the road, the former Fleet Foxes drummer charmed and wooed this crowd like he's done to every other.
He began his set with Fear Fun's opener, “Funtimes In Babylon,” and near the end he hopped off the stage, microphone in hand, and climbed on the barrier to take a photo of the audience. His fans screamed and pushed up to get close to him, snapping pictures of their own. “Is that an iPhone 5?” he asked as his band continues to play the song he had seemingly deserted. “What's so cool about it? Does it have a better interface?” The crowd laughed and he fed off the positive feedback by stringing the joke out as long as possible before getting back to the task at hand and finishing the song. But banter like this is what makes Father John Misty shows so memorable. Tillman engages with the audience like no other contemporary front man, and though everyone in the audience was there to hear him play music, they all erupted in laughter when he thanked his choreographer Crystal after “Only Son Of The Ladies' Man,” and discussed how he's working on hologram technology to create a holographic Josh Tillman that plays R. Kelly's “I Believe I Can Fly,” over and over before delving into “Teepees 1-12.”
And his charisma does not only shine through in between songs. As our own Arrissia Owen recently discussed with the singer/songwriter, he is known for his impeccable dance moves onstage. As he sang, he waved his hands in grand gestures; he kicked his legs like he was dancing cabaret; he proceeded to thrust his pelvis in a way that made the ladies swoon; he dropped to his knees and strained his face emotively as he wailed; he picked up and swung around his microphone stand. Even though there were five other talented musicians sharing the stage with him, it was hard not to keep your eyes fixed on him all night, scared that you might miss something spectacular if you blinked.
The band played virtually every song off Fear Fun before the encore, so when they came back out they treated the audience to a country-tinged cover of The Beatles' “Happiness Is A Warm Gun,” and two yet-to-be-released tracks, “Bored In The USA,” and “I Love You Honeybear.” Tillman deserves a well-rested break after the year he's had, but our fingers are crossed that a sophomore album will be in the works soon.
Critical Bias: Josh Tillman breathes wonderful new life into his already brilliant songs during live performances by slightly altering lyrics, tempos or structures. Pure genius.
The Crowd: One of the more “mature” audiences I've seen at The Glass House.
Overheard In The Crowd: Guy In Audience: “I love your beard!” Josh Tillman: “I'm telling you man, don't fall in love with my beard. It will only disappoint you.” (This turned into a few-minute-long rant about why exactly falling in love with his beard would be nothing but hurtful.)
Random Notebook Dump: Fear Fun was the only album in my car CD player for six months, and after tonight it's going back in.