At the end of May, clearly the month that this blog forgot, I had the absolute pleasure of seeing Father John Misty (Josh Tillman) play at the Pabst Theater here in Milwaukee. This is the show I’d been looking forward to most this year, and it did NOT disappoint. Fast forward through the opener, because I can’t remember their names other than it was not King Tuff, as I’d expected. Whoever it was, wasn’t bad, but they were nothing like the spectacle that was about to o’ertake the stage.
FJM’s stage setup was pretty straight-forward: a basic band setup with a curtain backdrop and a neon sign depicting a heart with “No Photography” written in cursive. Before the concert, I had a discussion with Q about the authenticity of that photography warning, since Father John Misty is fond of re-posting fan pictures on Instagram. I also noticed that different parts of the phrase were blinking at different times and “No Photography” was rarely lit up together. I found this to be yet another small signal speaking to the particular brand of irony that he seems so fond of creating, particularly in his most recent album, I Love You Honeybear.
But, the show. Ahhh, the show.
Certain singers have a way, or a vocal pitch, or something, that just is more or less drug-like to me. Sam Beam. Caleb Followill. Colin Meloy. When I first heard Father John Misty, it had the same effect. Goosebumps. And other feels.
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a show with such high energy. Sure there was Weezer at the short-lived Verge Music Fest in 2010, but Rivers was totally on drugs. And maybe FJM was too, but I don’t care. That man jumped and flailed and stood on top of the bass drum and threw the microphone stand around and pretended to hang himself with the mic cord and flopped around on the ground like a fish that was being electrocuted, all while singing and wailing in the most delectable way.
It was an audio-visual consummation of the holiest order.
A review that I perused post-concert mentioned what a travesty it was that Josh Tillman was trapped behind the Fleet Foxes drum kit for so long, and I couldn’t agree more. I love me some “Mykonos,” but DAMN.
A perk of seeing Father John Misty, as if I needed another, was that his catalog as a sophomore act is entirely manageable. I am extremely intimate with both of his albums, thus I was familiar with every song he played. Of course, there were favorites: “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings,” “Chateau Lobby #4,” “The Night Josh Tillman Came to Our Apartment,” and “The Ideal Husband,” and “Nancy From Now On,” just to name a few.
A recent trip to Madison made me blissfully aware that FJM is playing The Orpheum on September 20, and I have every intention of being there. Odds are slim that he’ll slay the encore with Nirvana’s “Heart-Shaped Box” again, but all my
fallopian tubes fingers are crossed.