Photo taken by Kyle Gustafson for The Washington Post
The neon sign lights the red curtains behind it, and Josh dances across the stage; all knees and hips. Holding onto the corded mic as if it were wireless, its black line flailing and twisting behind him, he kneels before me. As he takes my hand and does a little shimmy I can feel myself blushing uncontrollably as I do in any surprising circumstance. Yet as he returns my hand to me the warmth is replaced by the AC’s cool air blasting in our direction. That one moment, fever like in its highs and lows, made Josh Tillman both real and ethereal. A man who both builds up this rock idol, ladies man appeal, also admits to its absurdity.
Both character and honest man, Father John Misty, the moniker of artist Josh Tillman, is a creative force with a dry sense of humor. “It’s so ridiculous it must be true” is probably one of the only colloquialisms that can be attached to Father John Misty. Tillman’s second studio album under this moniker expresses a desire to portray love, marriage, and adulthood in a bitingly realistic light. Love songs that have the tune of ballads or indie pop songs, are twisted and lyricized to create a sumptuous and abject love. There’s a “wedding dress someone was probably murdered in,” “malaprops,” a wide array of curse words, and much much more. It’s truly a grab bag of daily minutia and wittily sardonic notions.
Backed by very talented musicians, assisted by quick-fingered cord-untanglers, and lit be a phenomenal light show, Father John Misty put on one hell of a show. After being on tour for as long as he has, it is such a joy to watch him act and react to his own lyrics and the crowd like he wrote the song the day before. Sarcastically shrugging and gesturing to truly humorous lyrics, the crowd was enthralled, watching his every move. “I love you” someone shouts from the crowd; Josh looks up and says “shut up, this is my time. . .it’s about my feelings. . .and validating them. . .with an obscene amount of positive affirmations.”
At the end of the show he goes from one end of the stage to the other, shaking hands, taking selfies, signing albums and requesting no one crushes anyone else. A kind gesture, even as everyone, man and woman alike, rushes to the stage for just a touch of Father John Misty.