Father John Misty @ The Corner
“You’re a fucking idiot,” my boyfriend told me. In the weeks preceding the Father John Misty gig, he had twigged to my secret crush on Josh Tillman, largely because I kept posting about it on Facebook. Here’s a video of Father John Misty on Letterman, sa-woon. Here’s J Tillman in a fake five-and-a-half-minute-long commercial for Japanese whisky. Here are some of the many hilarious things J Tillman has posted on Twitter. My partner thought I was a fucking idiot not because I had developed a crush on a musician (which happens every two to three minutes) but because the musician in question is clearly a massive fucking idiot. In the six months since Tillman liberated himself from the Fleet Foxes, moved to LA and started his new musical venture, the music world has become a dumping ground for his seemingly gargantuan ego. I personally have sat through (read: encouraged) two awesomely pretentious and long-winded interviews with Tillman, and read countless others. (At the end of my first interview his tour manager said, “Was that okay? I heard him say ‘Schopenhauer posits’ and I thought, oh shit.”) Tillman is, in many ways, an unbearably smug individual, perpetually hurling himself at the spotlight – the kind of person who only looks into your eyes to see his own reflection. But, he is also one talented motherfucker. I mean Christ, that man can sing. (He is also horrifically good-looking, but this has no bearing on my feelings towards him whatsoever).
When Tillman opened his mouth to croon the first lines of Fun Times In Babylon at The Corner, you could feel the crowd lean back, eyes wide. It was a golden moment. With a full band around him – two gifted guitarists, a bass player, a guy on synth and a drummer – the beautiful opening track from Fear Fun soared out in pristine condition, teeming with all the melancholy, nihilism and romance of the original recording, but bigger; impossibly big and warm and lovely.
I brought a couple of male friends to the gig with me – a few female friends, too, but it was the guys’ reaction I was interested in (ladies are not to be trusted when it comes to Father John Misty, the uterus starts giggling and drowns out the brain). I turned to the boys a few minutes in and asked how they liked it. "Fucking amazing," they said. "He’s the real deal, isn’t he?" (I’m not making that part up, my mate Daniel is very sweet and earnest. Although he did thank me the next day for what he called an “arse-numbingly good” show.)
Unlike the sets I saw at SXSW, where Tillman’s spent as much time making surreal jokes as he did playing songs, his gig at The Corner was all music, bringing every seedy, glorious track on the album to swollen life with a sonorous voice that would kill it in both '70s folk and musical theatre. Honestly, it makes me feel sick to think about how nice it must be to sing that well. And live, even the least listenable tunes on Fear Fun were fantastic, even Writing A Novel, which was transformed from hokey twang fest to stomping hoe-down on stage. That song, which I hate, provided one of the best moments in the show. That goofy, bouncy throwaway tune saw Tillman come alive as this flailing, acid-tripping shaman who dances like no-one is watching. Seeing him fling his hips around in a semi-retarded fashion I thought, sa-woon. It’s impossible not to love this very strange, very charismatic fucking idiot who knows he was born to be a star.
BY SIMONE UBALDI
LOVED: My boyfriend’s refusal to acknowledge musical genius in good-looking people.
HATED: The kids in front of us who watched the whole set through their goddamn iPhones.
DRANK: Jagermeister. Did not end well.