Photo by Erin Lebar
Last night at Terminal 5, Father John Misty
welcomed fans to his weird little world where the music was lively, the banter was aplenty, and the dance moves…well let’s just say there was more than one booty pop. Father John, a.k.a. Joshua Tillman, made quite the entrance, sliding on stage in his all-white suit and ever-so-classy shades, smoking a cigarette and whirling a half-full cup of beer around. After finishing his first song, “Fun Times in Babylon,” Tillman asked, “Can I get a spotlight on me?” And that’s when we all knew this was going to be a good night.
Tillman made it almost all the way through his debut album as Father John Misty, Fear Fun
, nearly every song peppered with some hilarious banter about riding in taxis with pizza and marmosets, or dreams, or altruism, or prayers to God. It was serious but not serious, and surprisingly coherent. Despite his oddities, it wasn’t hard to take Tillman seriously, even when he goofily struggled to get back on stage after jumping into the pit. “In my dream I had no difficulties getting back on stage,” Tillman noted, “but dreams don’t always come true!”
His shtick would be slightly less endearing if he were any less gifted at what he does. Stripping away all of his eccentricities, Josh Tillman is an incredibly talented musician who had no trouble blasting out album-quality vocals on every track. From the ever-popular “Only Son Of A Ladies Man,” to the slightly more downtrodden “This Is Sally Hatchet,” Tillman enveloped his audience in a kind of controlled chaos that made anything seem possible. He was born to be a frontman.
The set ended with an almost frightening rendition of “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings,” complete with a super dramatic, blurry and dissonant guitar solo with Tillman rolling around on the floor with his beloved mic cords wrapped around him. An abrupt cut-to-black exit had everyone a more than a little confused, but by that point it was par for the course.
Then came the encore: the “space wherein anything is possible,” Tillman mused, “anything
.” Among the three-song set was an insanely good cover of “Happiness Is A Warm Gun.” Everything about it just worked. And, in a semi-anticlimactic end, Tillman finished up a new track, “I Love You Honeybear,” said “I hope you had a wonderful time” so earnestly it was almost heartbreaking, and then calmly collected his discarded jacket as the house lights came up and people began to disperse. It was an aptly strange end to what was perhaps the most entertaining yet perplexing concert experience I’ve ever had.