Father John Misty brings his rock god poetry to Vancouver

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Psychedelic rock hero Father John Misty performed for a sold out Orpheum crowd and he more than exceeded the expectations of the die-hard fans that filled those seats. Since his acid-fueled debut album Fear Fun, the artist who previously performed in many bands has found his place as a solo artist. Born Joshua Tillman and hailing from Maryland, the performer is known to many now as a sort of poet god—spewing oddball romantic lyrics riddled with fantastical elements and gorgeous vocals.

Long Beach, California duo Tess and Dave provided the first performance of the evening, dancing in all their Virgin Suicides-esque glory, donning sequins and rocking out with various instruments. At first the audience did not know what to think, and it felt like your very weird aunt and uncle were singing and dancing for you; turns out it was kind of awesome. There was ‘the running man’…there was ‘the wave’. Soon concertgoers were pulled into the oddness of Tess and Dave’s adorable songs like “Holding My Own Hand”. Projecting quite a hippie version of June Carter and Johnny Cash, Tess and Dave basically belong in a Wes Anderson film.

From the opening song “Every Man Needs a Companion” to the round up cover of The Beatles’ “Revolution”, Father John Misty enraptured the Orpheum crowd without missing a single beat. Playing all his hits from “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” to the newly beloved “I Love You, Honeybear”, the musically blessed Misty bounced around the stage with his guitar in a deep V suit and his signature beard. Misty’s Christian upbringing seeps into his music style, creating a sort of gospel sound and atmosphere; this in turn juxtaposes lyrics riddled with softly sung profanities, sexual innuendoes and musings of favorable drug use. One of Father John’s most recent artistic appearance was in friend and fellow lovely weirdo Lana Del Rey’s music video for her song “Freak” off of the album Honeymoon—this floaty fairy dark daydream was spawned from Misty’s experience on acid at a Taylor Swift concert. Really, his openness to experiences and people make him intriguing to fans and newcomers alike, so much so that it is a wonderful surprise to see him live up to the hype musically as well as with presence. The same dream-like vibes he created in “Freak” were apparent as he crooned “Nancy From Now On” and “This is Sally Hatchet” along with adoring Orpheum attendees.  

Misty’s 1960s style of rock and roll stage presence commands audiences so simply that if anything more were to happen, the distraction from Misty himself would be unwelcomed. “Bored in the USA” was a particularly Misty-esque moment in the history of the evening, and his one on one relationship with the audience kept the entire room standing throughout the set. Indeed “Funtimes in Babylon” brought fun times to Vancouver, and the draw of Misty’s crudely romantic lyricism does not run out in any song. From “When You Are Smiling and Astride Me” to “The Ideal Husband”, his dark charm delivered by a lopsided physical swagger and unwavering folksy and soft vocalizations set him apart from most of his peers, and certainly from anyone who has visited Vancouver as of late. The Orpheum’s operatic decor suited the mood of the evening and—of course—the man of the night, the original “Only Son of a Ladiesman”.