Father John Misty Takes Music City To Church…Or Something Like It

“Look buddy, I’m not letting Nashville down tonight!” Josh Tillman said in an imaginary conversation with a man backstage at Marathon Music Works. This was shortly after coming back to a roaring crowd, in the encore phase of a performance that actually made me believe that people can go to a show in a certified big room and not suck by holding up their phone the entire time and/or talking through the quiet moments.

I’ve realized and decided (in the hours since) that the reason that this show went over so well is that Father John Misty is one of the few singer-songwriters in the known universe that an audience cares to actually listen to. In a city known for specializing in the trade, it’s not common to see a crowd of hundreds shouting back the lyrics to the performer on stage, but it’s also not common for that singer-songwriter to also be a burgeoning rock star.

However, here we are in 2015, and the guy who used to absentmindedly drum and harmonize for dad-folk masters Fleet Foxes is on the verge of turning a psilocybin-fueled trip up the Pacific Coast Highwfatherjohnmisty-35008-3ay into a legitimate solo career. Even more incredibly, he’s an attractive and talented male in his prime mating years that is anchored by a woman that has the gall to dedicate her life to a theatrical lothario that could pull an untold amount of women, had he not found a sense of sincerity shortly after deciding that sincerity was a joke.

Here’s my notes from the show. They’re scattershot and mostly incoherent. If you need a step-by-step recap of the night, you’ll have several of those at your disposal (from various tour stops even) by the time you get to this piece. It’s a waste of everyone’s time to try and approach a new angle on Father John Misty. He’s already been mythologized and deified just as much as he’s been tarred and feathered.

Realistically, if you weren’t in the building when Tillman and his band ripped through an efficient setlist stacked with songs both old and new, then you missed an actual “moment.” I’m not even sure that I can stress enough how rare it is to catch such a “moment” in live musical performance, when a singular talent is peaking and the crowd is reciprocating that energy in an appropriately-sized venue. My former co-worker did his best to boil down the essence of the electric atmosphere at Marathon, turning to me several times (in the midst of his own edible-fueled trip) and saying different variations of the same phrase, “this is great.”

It was. Here’s some pictures, captured by freelance photographer Lauren Hanson.

– Kevin B.

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