Live Review & Photos: Father John Misty at House of Blues, November 1, 2013

Photos by Sylvia Borgo
Photos by Sylvia Borgo

Father John Misty, let me write a poem about you:

You stepped on stage
The bunny head comfortably atop your head
You poured the wine
But never drank
Way to stick to your guns

Father John Misty treated the Friday night House of Blues crowd to an acoustic set of songs off his album, Fear Fun. The former Fleet Fox (whose real name is Josh Tillman), kicked off his set with “I’m Writing A Novel” and ad libbed humorous phrases in between his lyrics.

The crowd joined him in singing “Nancy From Now On,” and whistled along to “Tee Pees 1-12.” What the crowd lacked in harmonic talent, it made up for with fidelity to Father John Misty’s lyrics and music. Other crowd favorites were “Only Son of a Ladies Man,” “Fun Times in Babylon,” and “Everyman Needs a Companion.” He played a couple of new, unreleased songs, one of which he introduced as “a song about one of the worst days of my life.”

Father John Misty, especially in the acoustic setting, had a pretty low tolerance for loudmouths, assholes, and drunks. During “Now I’m Learning To Love The War,” people near the bar wouldn’t pipe down, and Tillman said, “You just missed the entire set of my favorite comedic act. I need you to be quiet so that you can hear shit like this, ‘Baby. Baby. Baby. Baby.” Tillman turned briefly to the balcony and told a guy to stop taking flash photography, that it was bad enough that the “House of Blues didn’t respect its ticket buyers enough to separate the stage from the bar.” Sensing his dissatisfaction, the crowd up front tried to placate him by saying, “I appreciate you. I appreciate you, Josh Tillman,” and “You’re awesome.”

This solo show was vastly different from the full-band version of Father John Misty that played Pomona a few months ago. With his band, Tillman is electric and magnetic, his personality dialed up all the way up to 11. He wears a shirt unbuttoned enough to reveal his chest hair, which he periodically tucks into his nice trousers. His hips move in Jagger-esque manner and he all but does splits on stage. As a solo act, Father John Misty is still electric and magnetic but simply due to his voice, intelligence, and subdued humor.

I wonder what he will be like the next time he plays San Diego as Father John Misty or Josh Tillman or whatever future incarnation he creates. I’m pretty sure I’ll like whoever he chooses to be.

You left your two guitars on stage
And the bunny head
And the wine
And then the lights went off

Father John Misty at House of Blues San Diego

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