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Father John Misty @ Union Transfer.

June 10, 2013

FatherJohnMisty19Text and images by Grace Dickinson.

“My family asked what I was doing later, and I said, ‘I’m going to be shaking my little ass in front of some degenerates in Philly,” said Joshua Tillman, a man not afraid, and actually quite good at moving his booty. “That’s what I’m going to be doing.”

FatherJohnMisty01Tillman came straight to Union Transfer Saturday from his sister’s high school graduation for a show that would include plenty of theatrics, dancing and re-tucking of his dressy grad button-up.

The tall, shaggy-haired musician is the person behind Father John Misty, a new moniker under which he released his latest album, Fear Fun, in May of last year. The album’s a folky, lyrically amusing one that will certainly beg your ears for another listen. But Tillman’s live performance is what’ll really make it memorable.

FatherJohnMisty09Part singer, part standup comic, Tillman is a performer in more ways in one, and he does it all in a way that makes it look easy. He’s a storyteller. A pro hip-shaker. A guitar player, acrobatic back-bender, improviser, and, if you so choose, a commencement speaker.

“I’m available for high school ceremonies, if anyone’s looking for a speaker,” joked Tillman. “And birthday parties too.”

Eliciting a steady stream of laughter throughout the night, all of his amiable traits appeared astonishingly unforced.

“Can I interest you in any fresh ground pepper?” he casually slipped mid-stream into conversation about Union Transfer.

He’s a fan of the old Spaghetti Warehouse’s history, and says it just might be his favorite venue in the nation.

You can add being a former drummer of Fleet Foxes to Tillman’s repertoire too, one of his most recent gigs prior to Father John Misty. He joined the band in 2008, with whom he toured until January of 2012. Within those years, he also released three albums of his own under a shortened version of his actual name, J. Tillman.

After taking a brief hiatus from songwriting, Tillman returned to music with a new approach, prompting him to take on the name of Father John Misty.

“What I call it is totally arbitrary but I like the name,” he said of Father John Misty, emphasizing it’s just a title, not an actual persona. “I see a lot of rampant, sexless, male-fantasy everywhere in the music around me. I didn’t want any alter-egos, any vagaries, fantasy, escapism, any over-wrought sentimentality. I like humor and sex and mischief. So when you think about it, it’s kind of mischievous to write about yourself in a plainspoken, kind of explicitly obvious way and call it something like misty. I mean, I may as well have called it Steve.”

PureBathingCulture01Pure Bathing Culture opened the night’s show and would exceed much of the audience’s expectations with their breezy, chill tunes.

“You guys are awesome,” shouted a random dude.

He was heard amidst the loud cheers of the crowd after the Portland-based band announced they’d play another three songs. No one was leaping to rush these guys off the stage.

To cap off the night, Father John Misty delivered a three-song encore, including a new one where Tillman asked the audience to join his band as the “lead silencers.”

“You guys did a really good job with that role,” he said.

Tillman is now headed south as he carries out his summer-long tour.

One Comment
  1. stefanieannhuber permalink
    June 11, 2013 9:06 am

    Great write up and fantastic pics. I was in the front row right where you were…just an epic show! He is magic and the band is rockin’.

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