Father John Misty at Fine Line, 10/31/12
Photo by Nicola Losik
Father John Misty
With La Sera and Jeffertitti's Nile
Fine Line Music Cafe, Minneapolis
October 31, 2012
"Do you like my costume?" joked Joshua Tillman, the frontman and main creative force behind Father John Misty, as he and his five backing musicians took to the Fine Line stage on Wednesday night, all of them decidedly not dressed up for Halloween. "I'm a walking/singing corpse. I'm the razor blade inside your apple," Tillman clarified somewhat morbidly while gleefully passing out candy to the sold-out room. It proved to be the only dark moment during their exuberant 65-minute set, as the band delivered their boisterous brand of countrified, '70s-tinged rock to a well-lubricated crowd who were in a festive, feisty mood.
The 13-song set started with "Fun Times In Babylon," which had a relaxed, Glen Campbell-like vibe to it, as Tillman preened a bit on stage with a drink loosely in his hand. And when fans started cheering during a dramatic break before the closing lyrics, "Look out Hollywood here I come," Tillman playfully chastised them with a quick, "Shut Up!" Tillman then went on to further describe his markedly plain stage get up, "So, my real costume for Halloween is myself from five months ago or however long it was since I last played here. I took acid and did karaoke in Chicago last night, and did the exact same thing the last time I was here. I'm repeating everything that I did the last time. It's just one huge con."
Photo by Nicola Losik
Well, no one was going to feel cheated from this performance, as Tillman and his cracking band kept cranking out one spirited song after another, as "Only Son of a Ladies' Man," "Nancy From Now On," and "I'm Writing A Novel" all soared in the packed club, with Tillman throwing his hands in the air after "Novel," as if he and the band had just scored a knockout, which indeed they had. Tillman's songs are all rather simple, uncomplicated arrangements, and might fall flat without the outsized but easygoing charisma and personality of the singer himself, who delivers his bold, flippant lyrics with an affable charm that effortlessly wins over a room.
Tillman continued on the Halloween theme for much of the set, "Happy Halloween, everybody! It's good that Satan finally get's a day for himself. The immortals threw Satan a bone with this holiday." And while his between song banter was humorous and a bit fiendish, the songs all had a sprightly, infectious appeal that surprisingly seemed to mesh well with the sinister spirit of the holiday itself. "Well, You Can Do It Without Me" and "Now I'm Learning to Love the War" both had a vibrant bounce to them, mixed with some dark lyrical and melodic undercurrents which gave the tracks some teeth.
Photos by Nicola Losik
Joshua then announced that he would be presenting "another Tillman" with an imaginary key to the city, as a Rasta-costumed Sean Tillmann/Har Mar Superstar took briefly to the stage, and imparted some wisdom on us, "A penny saved is a penny earned, mon!" And, rather than staying up there and doing a song together, Har Mar was off, leaving Joshua to hilariously tell us that Sean was dressed up as "Ben-Jah-Mon Franklin." Tillman picked up a guitar for "Tee Pees 1-12," and it gave the song a nice kick. Knowing how talented a musician Tillman is, it was different to see him content to play the showman, dancing around on stage for the entirety of the set without an instrument in hand. Even he noticed how sweet holding the guitar felt as he proclaimed afterwards, "It feels good to just shred every now and then."
The main set ended with the stage getting covered with smoke during the bluesy, Stones-like boogie of "Every Man Needs A Companion," before the band closed it out with a stomping, rollicking rendition of "Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings," an infectious beast of a track which has gone a long way towards Father John Misty selling-out each time he's played Minneapolis. The band really discordantly deconstructed the song during a wild coda, which found Tillman dropping to his knees, entirely lost in the moment, before quickly leaving the stage while blowing kisses to the rapturous crowd.
Photo by Nicola Losik
The encore break was brief, with Tillman still in a fighting spirit as he took to the stage while giving middle fingers to the sky. "I'm so glad I don't know anyone here. I don't get obnoxious texts from people I haven't talked to in years. Just Sean Tillmann getting in touch with me, 'Hey man, let's hang out and just be awesome.'" The encore started with a sweet, loungey version of Dean Martin's "Nevertheless I'm In Love With You," that seemed to be a subtle way for Tillman to thank everyone for their overwhelming support.
But the night had to close with a spark, and the band got fully electric for a crunchy version of Canned Heat's "On The Road Again," which ended the set on a high (quite literally, too, as the club filled with pot smoke). "Have a great Halloween, you Scandinavian vampires" Tillman teased as he left the stage. And indeed, with a show as good as this one, it was impossible not to enjoy the holiday.
Personal Bias: Due to other commitments, I've sadly missed the other Father John Misty shows here in Minneapolis up to this point. I love Fear Fun, and was happy to finally get a chance to hear those songs live.
The Crowd: Packed and mostly dressed for the occasion, with about half the house dressing up for Halloween.
Overheard In The Crowd: "I really hope he takes off his shirt at some point. Talk about a Happy Halloween!"
Random Notebook Dump: Along with Dave King, I feel that Joshua Tillman can do an opening comedy act for his band. The dude is FUNNY.
Fun Times In Babylon
Only Son Of A Ladies' Man
Nancy From Now On
I'm Writing A Novel
Misty's Nightmares 1 & 2
This Is Sally Hatchet
Well, You Can Do It Without Me
Now I'm Learning To Love The War
Tee Pees 1-12
Every Man Needs A Companion
Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings
Nevertheless I'm In Love With You (Dean Martin)(Encore)
On The Road Again (Canned Heat)(Encore)
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