After finally fulfilling my dream of screaming and dancing along to Father John Misty live, I can confidently say witnessing the ex-Fleet Foxes drummer’s performance was the most thrilling, yet refreshing night of my concert-going career thus far.
Moments before entering the Paramount for his sold-out Seattle show, Josh Tillman casually walked by, en route to his luxurious tour bus. Being the annoying, FJM-loving groupie that I am, also knowing the egotistical persona he is criticized for, I cautiously asked for a picture. I suspect nuisance situations like these grow frustratingly tedious – but Josh didn’t seem to mind making the extra stop. Whether his soft-spoken manner was a façade or true character, it was surprising, comforting, and all the more nerve-wracking to be in the presence of my favorite artist. By the way, his wild beard and snazzy style are even more remarkable up close.
Father John Misty’s performance was a whole other level of astonishing. I’ll admit the show did start out slow, granted he opened with “Everyman Needs a Companion,” a pretty soothing song. Nonetheless, there was never a dull moment. Every track was unforgettable for different reasons, be it the spectacular and ethereal lighting throughout the night, FJM taking a video of himself on a fan’s phone, pointlessly standing on the drum set (because why not), or tossing his guitar offstage and strutting around with the microphone stand. But most noteworthy was his dancing. I was most impressed by the musician’s fey and dreamy dance moves. Unless you’ve seen him perform before at prior concerts or videos online, it’s impossible to prepare yourself for his uniquely perfected rhythm; it is truly indescribable. I found myself wondering what the hell he was doing, but wishing I could master his sporadic drops to the floor during “When You’re Smiling Astride Me.”
While it’s impossible to decide on my favorite song of the night, one of my top picks is “I Love You, Honeybear.” Through his powerful lyrics, FJM is critical yet complimentary of love. He expresses turmoil and mishaps of living in a dreary society, but the overruling fortune of love that makes everything worthwhile.
“My love, you’re the one I want to watch the ship go down with.”
Misty laments the disintegration of society, the white noise of the digital age, and the daily burdens of life are all made tolerable by the depth of his and Emma’s (his wife) love. By forcing listeners to acknowledge a brutal reality of life, juxtaposed with sanctity of love, he leaves his audience with a glimmer of hope. Everything might be doomed and yes, the economy might crash, but when you’re accompanied by those you care about- it’ll be okay.
Feeling like the night couldn’t get any more impeccable, the beat started for Rihanna’s song “Kiss it Better” from her new album ANTI (must listen). Not only did Father John Misty perform an awesome cover, but more importantly, a well-known and talented male in music culture performed a song that criticizes patriarchal norms. Being a respected female image and inspiration for self-confidence and individuality, Rihanna’s song touches upon the sexual structure of the patriarchy, where male pleasure and concern takes top priority. She encourages men to swallow their pride and acknowledge female wishes.
Seriously, what is better than FJM x RiRi?
FJM quickly says “listen up boys” in between lines while performing her song, reminding males in the audience that their needs are not more important than a woman’s desires; men and women are equal. Witnessing my favorite artist subvert male authority, with none other than a Rihanna song, multiplied my respect for Josh Tillman as both an individual and musician. Seriously, what is better than FJM x RiRi?
The only disappointing moment of the night was that the show ended. It could have gone on forever, and that would have been just fine, but all things must end. Love filled the venue as Josh shook hands and blew kisses to the audience. An unforgettable night.
Cover photo via theguardian.com.