By: Derek Jung
A little over three months after taking the main stage at Bunbury Music Festival in downtown Cincinnati, Father John Misty returned to the Tristate, this time across the Ohio River at Madison Theater. Luckily for those in attendance, Tillman and gang brought the captivating performance and hilarious banter along with them.
Bringing out songs from their debut Fear Fun and their latest, I Love You, Honeybear, one of my favorite albums so far this year, the band lived up to their reputation of being one of the must-see acts of the past few years. J. Tillman is the quintessential frontman, exuding charisma, personality, and sardonic humor. Note the "No Photography" heart shaped neon backdrop in the background. He takes nothing too seriously, himself included, and lyrically many of his songs reflect this attitude. Personality aside, Tillman was all over the stage the entire night, swinging a mic stand over his shoulder, standing on the bass drum, and dropping to his knees in moments of passion. The crowd was in the palm of his hands and he performed with a calm confidence that just made us want more.
Playing the night after his "cover of Ryan Adam's cover of Taylor Swift's 1989 hit 'Blank Space' in the style of The Velvet Underground" surfaced on the internet, many in attendance were calling for him to play it, but he declined with a quick quip about not remembering the words. These quips were a central aspect of Father John Misty's performance, tip-toeing a fine line between a music set and a J. Tillman stand up comedy routine. Some people think he can go on a bit too much with his humor, but I take it all in stride. With topics ranging from internet meme wormholes, cute burly men, taking photos at concerts and not knowing what to do if you don't have your phone to capture every moment, and playing Freebird for no good reason, he made the most of it and I think the crowd generally got a kick out of it.
All of that aside, the man can just straight up sing. Let's not forget that Tillman was formally the drummer in Fleet Foxes, the harmony-heavy indie folk band. Tillman's range is just as impressive as his songwriting. This was especially apparent on "Bored in the USA" where he sang most of the song backed only by keyboards. I think it's sad that his vocal talent and fantastic songwriting sometimes get lost in his rambunctious antics on and off stage, because quite frankly he is one of the most compelling vocalists that I've ever seen. I'm glad that he's been receiving more of the attention that he deserves since I Love You, Honeybear was released.
The band was super tight in their performance, with impeccable timing and great musicianship. I also thoroughly enjoyed that Dave Vandervelde from opener Tess & Dave was a guitarist in the band.
I highly highly recommend seeing Father John Misty if you get the chance. This was my third time, and I'd happily see them again.
Below is the setlist from the show, and below that is the band's performance of "When You're Smiling and Astride Me".
I Love You, Honeybear
Only Son of the Ladiesman
When You're Smiling and Astride Me
The Night Josh Tillman Came to Our Apt.
I'm Writing a Novel
Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)
Nancy From Now On
Bored in the USA
Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Crow
This is Sally Hatchet
Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings
Funtimes in Babylon
The Ideal Husband
I Went to the Store One Day
Everyman Needs a Companion
Who are we?
Derek Jung and Joseph Kathmann -- Just two ordinary (debatable) guys that love talking about music. You can read more about us here: