Dancing With Himself - Father John Misty Sets Fitz on Fire
Photo by Emma Elizabeth Tillman
Text by Sarah Gajkowski-Hill
Folksy and ripe with drug-induced hallucinations and (tongue-in-cheek) religiosity in equal measure, Fear Fun, Father John Misty’s first album under his new moniker, was a journey through a lovable misanthrope’s psyche. Misty’s new concept album I Love You, Honeybear is a look into the mind of a conflicted narcissistic introvert — who falls in love. The new album has it all — soul singers, a mariachi band, bells, and myriad symphonic instruments. But foremost you must contend with the confessional, visceral voice that cries in the wilderness — that of Misty himself.
With projects as diverse as a sample in Kid Cudi’s single, “Young Lady” and a haunting duet on the song, “The Angry River” (from the True Detective soundtrack) Father John Misty is just as comfortable on Letterman as he is on Fitzgerald’s stage, where he toured last in 2023. The live show, April 23, did not disappoint as Father John Misty, aka Joshua Tillman, looking like nothing so much as a hipster Jesus, took bravely to the stage in nearly 100 degree heat. The swoon-worthy frontman to this 7-member backup of talented and diverse musicians, Misty began the set with “I Love You, Honeybear.” The consummate dancer, he didn’t stop moving for the entire concert. In a departure from his normal fare, a purple strobe light announced the song, “True Affection,” which is set to a techno track. With his back turned to the audience, Misty danced it out.
The crowd seemed well-educated in all things Father John Misty, lyrics-wise — and was up to the challenge of the untenable heat. “It’s hot, and it’s intimate,” Misty deadpanned to the audience, “Let’s get even more hot, and even more intimate”—then he launched into a sing-along version of “When You’re Smiling and Astride Me” with gospel enthusiasm.
Unapologetically confessing things that would make a lesser—or more demure—man blush, Misty’s tenor was downright beautiful. In fact, he sang his skinny ass off. The intricate guitar work by his band should be mentioned, as well. Misty requested water bottles from the stage as the heat wore on and the sweat-drenched crowd looked on longingly, but beers would have to suffice. His good-natured banter with the audience demonstrated that he doesn’t take himself so seriously. In fact, in interviews he’s pontificated on what a love song really is, but has ended up closing with a masturbation joke. Self-identified as a “horny man-child,” he sells himself short. One of the better singer/songwriters out there today, and with that clean tenor voice, if he is a man-child, he’s an endearing one.
Also of note, the opening show by the fellow Sub Pop Records duo, Luluc, offered an ethereal beginning to the evening. Reminiscent of the bands Low and Belle and Sebastian, the tenor/alto combination delivered a slew of folksy ballads that the crowd responded to with loud applause.
by Guest Author