Father John Misty

If you’ve seen Father John Misty three or four times like I have, you may know he has a fiery stage presence and isn’t too shy to make sardonic small talk in between songs.

What you may not know is that his signature dance moves were suspected to be the result of a medical condition in a letter to his label, Sub Pop. No, really, read this. Medical condition? No. Father John Misty, better known as Josh Tillman, has rather perfected a way to bring his collection of folk-pop songs to life on stage–I guess his gyrating and hip-shaking sometimes make him seem mentally ill to some. Tillman’s five-piece band played a sold-out show at The Fillmore this past Friday night where songs from their debut album, Fear Fun, dominated the set.

Before Father John Misty took stage, garage rock outfit White Fence warmed up the crowd. Having also seen White Fence a couple times as well, this was the best set I’ve ever heard them play–clean and tight. Every riff was a direct hit, and the setlist was an eclectic mix of older songs and tracks from their latest release, Cyclops Reap.

White Fence cleared the stage and Father John Misty launched into album-opener “Fun Time in Babylon,” and the crowd echoed the hopeful line of “look out Hollywood, here I come.” Tillman sang with a raw power to his voice, punching up the passion of each song. “Only Son of the Ladiesman” was a middle-of-the-set gem, with Tillman and co. enthralling all of The Fillmore with a tale of a man who was so smooth with the ladies.

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Tillman dedicated “I Love You, Honeybear,” an unreleased track, to his fiance, Emma. Another set surprise came during the encore, where he played “We Met at the Store,” a move away from the brand of bubblegum-folk of Father John Misty and much more of a return to his solo work under the J. Tillman moniker. This song was surprisingly touching–evoking a heartfelt narrative of meeting one’s future partner at the store.

Father John Misty closed his set with a cover of “Happiness Is A Warm Gun.” Yes, this may sound corny on paper. But Father John Misty pulled it off with something distinctly non-corny: dance moves that make some question his sanity.