Concert Review: Father John Misty @ Brooklyn Steel (5/11/17)
Josh Tillman, who is currently under his pseudonym Father John Misty, is one of my favorite artists right now and definitely one of the most engaging performers I have ever seen live. He is touring all over the country this summer supporting his new album, Pure Comedy, a beautifully uncomfortable album that challenges the significance of capitalism, entertainment, and ironically, Tillman’s own music. This past Thursday at Brooklyn Steel, a new venue that holds about 1,500 attendees, Tillman, supported by the outstanding band behind him, played a 23-song set that included many tracks from Pure Comedy as well as plenty of his most popular.
The first seven songs on Tillman’s set were from Pure Comedy, and this portion of his set included songs like the emotionally political title track as well as singles “Total Entertainment Forever” and the sarcastic “Ballad of the Dying Man,” which is probably my favorite from the album. After this run of new material, he busted out some songs from his second studio album, the openhearted and commercially successful I Love You, Honeybear, specifically the tracks “When You’re Smiling and Astride Me,” fan favorite “Strange Encounter,” and an incredibly passionate performance of “Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Crow.”
Tillman later provided the audience with some of his happiest tracks such as “Nancy From Now On,” which is from his first studio album, Fear Fun, and the short and sweet love song “Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins).” He finished his set with a heartfelt performance of the title track from I Love You, Honeybear, followed by an indignant rendition of “The Ideal Husband,” a paradox in itself because the lyrics reflect the perspective and actions of the complete opposite.
“Welcome to the encore.”
Tillman kicked off his extended encore with “Bored in the USA,” a sentimental song accompanied by piano and strings that also consists of a laugh track that is, after listening to the lyrics, another one of his intriguing paradoxes. Later, he played “Real Love Baby,” a non-album single that is probably the catchiest song in his catalog, and the lengthy and almost hallucinatory “So I’m Growing Old on Magic Mountain” from Pure Comedy. Tillman closed out the show with “Holy Shit,” which contains what I think is his most gripping lyric: “Maybe love is just an economy based on resource scarcity / What I fail to see is what that’s got to do with you and me.”
Father John Misty fans love Josh Tillman because of his haughty personality, his sense of humor, and the fact that his lyrics are direct and bullshit-free. In addition, he put on a phenomenal show, and I would love to see him again.
SETLIST: “Pure Comedy”; “Total Entertainment Forever”; “Things It Would Have Been Helpful to Know Before the Revolution”; “Ballad of the Dying Man”; “Birdie”; “A Bigger Paper Bag”; “When the God of Love Returns There’ll Be Hell to Pay”; “When You’re Smiling and Astride Me”; “Strange Encounter”; “Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Crow”; “Funtimes in Babylon”; “Nancy From Now On”; “Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)”; “True Affection”; “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings”; “I Love You, Honeybear”; “The Ideal Husband”
ENCORE: “Bored in the USA”; “The Memo”; “I’m Writing a Novel”; “Real Love Baby”; “So I’m Growing Old on Magic Mountain”; “Holy Shit”