Father John Misty & Har Mar Superstar Fitzgerald's May 24, 2012
"I'm going to be the first to combine sad bastard music and men's fitness, and maintain my integrity in each," said Josh Tillman, fronting Father John Misty, or inhabiting the Father John Misty, last night at Fitzgerald's, right before the band started in on another sad bastard song.
Between Misty and opener Har Mar Superstar, Fitz may have reached its allotted amount of male hip-shaking for the year, or at least this month. Misty's mountain pop and Har Mar's naughty dance-rock and R&B came with enough sass, yes sass, to make the weekend start in earnest.
After all, on White Oak, Thursdays are called "Little Friday" anyhow. Or at least they are to me.
The slowly undressing Har Mar came to town to carrying a handful of new tunes that he says he is working on with Spoon's Jim Eno in Austin, where he had a residency earlier this year.
It's decidedly more soulful than his earlier stuff, but it retains his trademark panty lust. He has been able to somehow meld the tunefulness of the Jackson Five with a cuddlier and less lecherous Blowfly. In the early '00s, he was no doubt the catalyst for plenty of naughty naked emo throwdowns.
It took his whole set for him to finally strip down to his skivvies, per the norm at a Har Mar show. Headliner Tillman sat in on drums for Har Mar's set, filling in where the laptop couldn't go.
Father John Misty is about a million miles away from Josh Tillman's solo work as um, J. Tillman, which was a foreboding and snowy side project from his main gig with Fleet Foxes that ended earlier this year.
Misty's lived-in, sturdy folk-rock is a tad sunnier and wrier than anything he has done so far, bringing to mind Loudon Wainwright III or Warren Zevon. The debut album, Fear Fun, is at poppy, psychotic and nonsense, and it's easily one of my favorite albums of the year so far.
His onstage persona is this loose-limbed and not-quite-caffeinated character. He calls them characters, too. He's actually having a bit of fun with it, even if his gullet was full of street-side meat from the drive to Houston from New Orleans. Boudin is hell on everyone.
One highlight was Tillman pulling his iPhone out to record the girl up front who had been capturing the whole show on her camera. Wonder where that went.
Of course, when you have plenty of wry stage banter, people tend to scream weird shit at you, like the guy who screamed "Townes Van Zandt" at him for no reason at all. Or the guy screaming "Jager" every few songs. True, Har Mar got that ball rolling, but...that's the audience.
"Now I'm Learning to Love the War" from Fear Fun came halfway through, and it sort of tied everything about the Misty figure into one big bundle. The line "I'll just call this what it is / My vanity gone wild with my crisis" makes sense now.
Or at least I think it does. Tillman might not, but that's cool, too. This could be a phase I am not smart enough to understand, or am supposed to even "get."
Personal Bias: "Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings" is my favorite single of the year. Hands down. Yes, I know June is a week away. Fuck it.
The Crowd: This one guy up front was dancing like he was at an Erasure show.
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Overheard in the Crowd: Everyone was quiet, except for those who were yelling random shit at Tillman in between songs.
Random Notebook Dump: I want more Misty material in the future. The suspense is terrible, I hope it will last.