REVIEW – Father John Misty at the Pabst Theater
Thursday, Sept 20, 2018, a sold-out show at the Pabst, the faint smell of pot in the air, the Pabst Theater was pitch black when the crowd began to roar as Father John Misty walked out to the stage. Without any introduction, Josh Tillman aka Father John Misty started what would be a righteous experience of pure indie rock gold.
Hot of his newest LP “God’s Favorite Customer”, FJM played a little of everything he created over the past 4 albums. There is something very refreshing about an artist on a newly released album tour that still doesn’t stray away from the songs that people love and gave him the fame he has today. In his 23 song setlist, he played a myriad of songs spanning across his discography.
Opening with Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings, one of his older jams from 2012, the Milwaukee crowd showed no hesitation in giving FJM love. It was clear that this crowd was enamored by FJM’s presence and from that point on he did not stop. Churning out song after song, It wasn’t until Ballad of the Dying Man that Mr. Tillman addressed the crowd and that was to praise his guitarist.
Typically this grinds my gears. I thoroughly enjoy a set where the artist is happy to be there and relates to the crowd. But, for some reason, this was the first show I’ve seen where It didn’t faze me. It could have been for multiple reasons, but what I attribute to this is that It’s just not Father John Misty. Recently there’s been some outcry against FJM’s character, see Ryan Adams sounding off, but that certainly did not detract from the show we experienced. Nothing felt rushed, the sound was fantastic and Father John Misty’s stage presence was anything short of angelic. Come to think of it, he actually looked a bit angelic and god-like, which is very interesting for someone who is a not so subtle way shits on religion.
As the show proceeded the band took turns from being on the stage to just letting FJM have his solo moment in the spotlight, which I think really showcased how great he sounds live. His studio recordings are nothing to sneer at but to hear how fantastic it sounded in such a huge venue like the Pabst Theater. You could hear every twang of the string of his guitar, every vibrato in his voice and every plunk of his piano keys.
Some parts were hauntingly beautiful, particularly in the song God’s Favorite Customer as the crowd was absolutely silent. Aside from that being something I’ve never experienced at a show before it truly added to the whole experience of what I felt FJM was trying to achieve. People were there to see him and after selling out a show it was very clear that he was comfortable to the point of arrogant with how well he could manipulate the crowd.
There were no lulls in his show at all, but one of the stand out moments came to fruition in the form of Pure Comedy, one of his more famous songs and particularly slower hits. The crowd stood and swayed and sang with Mr. Tillman as you introspectively thought about how the song is as beautifully tragic as it is funny.
A show was to be had at Pabst this Thursday, and Mr. Tillman did not disappoint a single person. After ending his main set with a famed classic I Love You, Honeybear, Father John Misty came back and played a 4 song encore. It was a fantastic show, played by one
of the most popular singer/songwriters of this generation. My hat is off to you Mr. Tillman, Milwaukee wants you back as soon as possible.
Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings
Total Entertainment Forever
Nancy From Now On
Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)
Ballad of the Dying Man
Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Crow
Hangout at the Gallows
Only Son of the Ladiesman
When the God of Love Returns There’ll Be Hell to Pay
Please Don’t Die
I Went to the Store One Day
Disappointing Diamonds Are the Rarest of Them All
God’s Favorite Customer
Real Love Baby
So I’m Growing Old on Magic Mountain
I Love You, Honeybear
Funtimes in Babylon
When You’re Smiling and Astride Me