Let’s burn this mother fucker to the ground!
-father john misty (at curtain call)
There are concerts and then there are Fuck Yeah Concerts! You don’t have to have attended any mixture of the two, or even attended a Fuck Yeah Concert to know what one is. You know, it’s that concert that makes you go Fuck Yeah! and really mean it. This is easier said than done, and plenty of times you might find yourself saying such a thing when it is undeserved. You can see your favorite band and it might not be a Fuck Yeah Concert. These concerts are elusive, like having fun on New Years Eve, you expect the night to be epic, but it usually dwindles into just another party.
Because it would be a pointless exercise to tell you about a Fuck Yeah Concert, if Friday’s show at Neumos featuring Jenny O and Father John Misty was not one. Though for some in the audience, it might have been a surprise just how good Father John Misty was, I was expecting it. Look, I don’t know what you were doing Friday night, but if you weren’t at Neumos, then you might as well have spent the entire night laying in the fetal position at the bottom of your closet.
The opener for FJM on Friday could not have been more opposite from the opener last May. That show was opened by Har Mar Superstar, who sang, danced, and stripped his way through a fantastic set. This time around the show started off on a more scaled back and gentle note with Jenny O, who did not strip, but did rock a red velvet jumpsuit.
She physically resembles a young Patti Smith, musically it’s a bit of a stretch to extend the analogy, but vocally she’s Smith with a brighter softer voice. The PR machines were hard at work in the weeks leading up to the show, making sure that I didn’t roll up fifteen minutes prior to Misty and ignore the brilliance that is Jenny O. You didn’t have to convince me, ten seconds into Automechanic, from her upcoming full length debut and I was sold.
While her studio sound is a polished pop folk with a full band behind her, on this tour she stands alone in the spotlight alternating between acoustic and electric guitars. The result is a grittier folk-rock, where the pop drops out threatened by the music’s stronger elemental forces. Her body and soul are that of a rockstar, but between songs, this tiny mousey voice grumbled inaudibly into the microphone, the audience straining to make out the words.
It was unfortunate that her band wasn’t there to back her up, because they add another dimension to her work that just isn’t achievable by herself. Never the less I think she turned some heads, and got a room full of people literally sweating with anticipation for her upcoming album. It should be illegal to play music as good as hers in front of crowds only to tell them they have to wait until February 5th to buy the album. Start saving your pennies kids, you’re going to want to pick this one up the moment it drops, and you can expect us to talk the shit out of it.
To understand the depth of talent and appeal of Josh Tillman AKA Father John Misty you need look only as far as the southern edge of Broadway on Seattle’s Capital Hill. He’s appeared there three times in the past four months (an anomaly for an artist who doesn’t live in the PNW) and yet Friday’s show was sold out. The eminence of FJM’s debut Fear Fun aside, I saw all three of those shows (the second streaming on the internet at the Capital Hill Block Party) and still I felt compelled to see him once again.
Fear Fun is easily the best album of the year, it represents the growth of Tillman from his days “wound licking” with a guitar as J. Tillman, and those spent keeping time behind the kick drum of the Fleet Foxes, to the outstanding Father John Misty. Fear Fun is full of beautiful and essentially perfect music from the moment the needle hits the record, to the moment the arm gently pulls up.
The direct counterpoint to Jenny O, Misty lives and breathes on stage like a beating heart separated from it’s owner. He plays with the music like it’s made of clay, and yet he never warps it so far that becomes an unrecognizable mass. Recently a friend attended an Animal Collective show and exclaimed that it was like watching a dude play his cd’s live. Father John couldn’t be more the opposite. At any moment he’ll do something completely unexpected, it’s the reason you see live music.
While still oozing with plenty of self deprecation and false bravado, perhaps the months of touring before hundreds of adoring fans has given his ego a healthy boost. Then again he might just be playing with the audience, as he does with his music. He is in complete control while on stage, like a great improv actor he’s comfortable rambling on with conviction about the monorail or god knows what. He’ll cast away his tambourine without a second’s thought to sing with a heart shaped mylar balloon on a stick. While the band solos on in the final third of Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings, he’ll dash into the crowd to make out with his girlfriend (yes, the girl from the Nancy From Now On video.)
I’ve attended some great performances this year, some I might even consider to be a Fuck Yeah Concert! but Father John Misty wins it all hands down. I could go on and on about how amazing he, his album, and his stage presence is, but instead, I’ll close by talking about my greatest oversight when it comes to FJM. Behind the pantomimed lyrics, Jim Morrison-esque dance moves, and self deprecating personality, the five musicians supporting Misty can get lost. They form the backbone upon which Misty dances, and it shames me to admit that I had yet to acknowledge their contribution to Father John Misty before now.
I’ll repeat what I said at the top of the article: if you were out doing something else on Friday night, and I really don’t care what that was, if you weren’t at Neumos, then you had an inferior night. This was the place to be.[portfolio_slideshow]