Live Review: Father John Misty at LC Pavilion, Sept 23
By Devon Hannan, Contributor
“Reading journalist intellectual types try to make rational sense of what the fuck I’m doing on stage is pretty rewarding,” Josh Tillman tweeted last March.
That’s me. That is exactly what I’m doing. And in moderation; he dances while holding the mic stand about four feet above his head, wearing a suit that’s about four sizes too small. It was a religious experience.
Tillman, more commonly known as Father John Misty, performed at Lifestyle Communities Indoor Pavilion in Columbus on September 23, 2015. I had previously seen the folk pop artist in Buffalo almost two months ago. Since then, I had come to the conclusion that this was the only performance I needed to see again. I had never been more blown away by anything. Father John Misty left me with my palms rubbing against my face, not only thinking, “What the SHIT was that” but also, “Josh Tillman definitely travelled back in time and conceived me.” It was the kind of show that made you forget to pull out your phone to take pictures. And that’s exactly how it should be.
The second time around, it was nothing short of phenomenal.
Immediately upon entry, we made our way to the stage and found ourselves front and center, second row. There was a gate between the stage and the audience, which I was disappointed to see. I find it hard to believe that anyone would attempt to crowd surf or hop on the stage while being serenaded by Father John Misty. Overall, that was my largest complaint. In Buffalo, there was no barricade, which allowed Tillman to be much more interactive with the audience. Though the gate didn’t stop him completely, I was looking forward to being coddled against Father John’s chest again, and with the gate's annoying presence, that didn’t happen.
Opening the show was an artist by the name of Mikal Cronin, oddly a punk, possibly indie rock act. He appeared on my radar about a year ago by a random vinyl purchase. I didn’t even know Cronin was opening for him until that morning, and needless to say, I was really pumped. For an opener, his set was great. I would have liked to have heard more balance on the stage; the instrumentals overpowered the vocals.
Father John Misty appeared around nine o’clock to “I Love You, Honeybear.” I was half expecting him to descend from the beams, but instead he entered stage left after the illumination of his fluorescent sign, “No Photography” peaked through vapor created by a fog machine. To provide an accurate analogy, Tillman was Ray J. and the stage was Kim K. After “Honeybear,” I looked back to see who would later become an acquaintance and loyal Instagram follower, tears trailing into his dirty blonde beard. “Same dude. Same.”
Following “Honeybear,” there were several key tracks in the set. “True Affection” featured Tillman’s stellar dancing. He resembled a teenage girl from the ‘80s or a chicken, maybe both. “The Night Josh Tillman Came to Our Apartment” showed off Father John’s outstanding theatrical expression.
One of my favorite songs of the evening and in general, “This is Sally Hatchet,” made me feel that I was wearing boots extending past my knee. The lighting made shadows reflect and rotate off of the backdrop, giving the effect that the room was spinning.
Following this, a woman threw her bright red bra onstage, only to have Tillman say “That’s a hot bra, it only goes downhill from here.” Tillman naturally stole someone’s cell phone and recorded himself singing “Bored in the U.S.A,” a favorite amongst college students like myself. “Funtimes in Babylon” began with a completely different yet beautiful intro, keeping the audience on their toes.
“Holy Shit” made the audience think, “Holy shit.” And the final song in the set (aside from the encore), “Ideal Husband,” had the entire audience jumping in unison, screaming every word, in a state of absolute bliss. In short, 97 percent of the set was perfect.
His commentary in-between tracks were almost as great as the music. “If you yell ‘you make me wet’ one more time, I am going to have to acknowledge you.” Or “I watched Straight Outta Compton last night and it made me feel pretty stupid about what I do.” I would have liked to see something crazy for “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” along with a live trumpet in “Chateau Lobby #4.” I also begged for him to play his newly released (and deleted, thanks to his dream with Lou Reed) cover of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space,” to which he dully responded, “No.”
Oh well, you can’t win them all.
Father John Misty’s incredible stage presence left me begging for more. That being said, I will be spending the next year praying to “President Jesus” that he returns within a 300 mile radius of me. I may even tattoo “No Photography” on my ass.