Father John Misty
The past weekend's "super moon" (the biggest and lowest full moon of the year), created a feeling of strangeness perfectly suited to the vibe of freak folk singer Father John Misty, who played for a sold out crowd at Pomona's Glass House on Saturday evening.
Before the show, in the deserted parking lot near the venue, a man approached us and asked if we could help him find any weed. While we kindly declined, this interaction crystalized the off kilter tone of the evening. It was about to get weird.
Outside the 800-person capacity Glass House, a crowd of eager hipsters wrapped around the corner of the venue's modern exterior. The smell of cigarette and weed smoke hung in the air, and everyone seemed excited for the show. Inside, the venue felt intimate. It was easy to get near the stage, and the second story balcony provided a great view.
The sound of opening band White Fence was derivative of Joy Division, with a somewhat unique twist. The strongest aspect of this two-piece (electric guitar and drums) band was their surprising fullness of sound. White Fence played mostly to a semi-filled venue, however, as patrons more interested in the headliner sprinkled in throughout the set.
Eventually, Father John Misty, nee former Fleet Foxes drummer Josh Tillman, walked onstage with a rock star swagger that energized the room and elicited an audience-wide cheer. Playing with his great backing band, Tillman began the set with the catchy, mellow "Funtimes in Babylon" off his debut album Fear Fun. The album's prevalent L.A themes contrasted with Pomona's small town feeling and made Los Angeles feel far away and fantastical.
Tillman was animated throughout the show, his showmanship and sardonic banter in full effect as he gyrated onstage. "Shout 'Free Bird,' I know you want to. Might as well let it out now," Tillman said at one point during the show, the sparkly disco ball suspended from the ceiling exacerbating the evening's '70s vibe.
At one point, Tillman grabbed the phone of an audience member and recorded himself performing as the crowd burst into laughter. He then gave the phone back and continued with the set, performing songs including "Only Son of the Ladiesman" and "Nancy From Now On" and hitting the falsetto note in the chorus of the latter song flawlessly. The crowd danced during the faster paced "Writing a Novel", with guys and cute hipster girls alike loudly shouting the catchy lyrics.
Tillman's dance moves included tying his mic chord around his neck and body, and this seeming Jim Morrison influence was further emphasized when Tillman stopped in the middle of a song and complained about American highways being overloaded with hamburger restaurants. (Being on the road for months behind Fear Fun perhaps being the impetus for this resentment.) After Tillman finished his rant, the band resumed the song as if nothing happened. The audience seemed slightly confused.
Tillman's backing band demonstrated their heady talent during "Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings", with a heavy live rendition that overshadowed the mellower album version. The band went off script during this song with some jamming and more of Tillman's funny mid-song banter. When the show ended, the crowd was immediately stomping and shouting "encore!" in unison.
Tillman eventually reappeared, continuing the show solo with his new song "Bored in The USA". The band then came back out to help cover The Beatles' "Happiness is a Warm Gun" which was a ballsy move that they made good on with a unique rendition. They show ended with the unreleased track "I Love You, Honeybear".
Personal Bias: I ate just a little too much "chocolate"
Overheard in Crowd: "Let me touch your beard!"
Random Notebook Dump: That weird guy asking for weed might've been a narc.
See setlist below.
Funtimes in Babylon
Only Son of the Ladiesman
Nancy From Now On
I'm Writing a Novel
Misty's Nightmares 1 & 2
This is Sally Hatchet
Well, You Can Do It Without Me
Now I'm Learning to Love the War
Tee Pees 1-12
Everyman Needs a Companion
Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings
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Bored In The USA
Happiness is a Warm Gun (Beatles cover)
I Love You, Honeybear (new unreleased track)