Father John Misty (aka Joshua Tillman) stopped by Vancouver’s Venue on September 22 as part of the Olio Festival. On tour to promote his new album (the only one under his new moniker), Fear Fun, Tillman was joined on stage by a five-piece band, which included two guitars, a bass, keyboard player, and drummer.
The former Fleet Foxes drummer opened with the haunting Appalachian-tinged “Funtimes in Babylon”, but the slow-paced number left the frontman looking slightly awkward, not knowing what to do with his hands and his stance, on stage. As soon as the band kicked into the drum-driven “Only Son of a Ladiesman”, however, Tillman began to let loose and unleash some of his much-talked-about dance moves. The very ’70s sounding “Nancy From Now On” came next, and if the audience still wasn’t inspired enough to bust a move on the dance floor, Tillman’s Wayfarer-wearing bassist sure was.
In between songs, Tillman kept the chit-chat to a minimum. At one point he lamented a pair of leather shoes he was forced to leave at the border; at another, he mumbled something about Slovenian philosopher Žižek. Four songs into the short set, the trotting alt-country “I’m Writing a Novel” was a highlight, which saw Tillman dance so hard with his mic stand that, at one point, he tripped and fell over. Keeping the country-folk vibe going strong, Father John Misty followed “Novel” with the thumping blues number “Misty’s Nightmares 1 & 2”, before flipping the switch back to more of a psychedelic folk-rock sound in “This is Sally Hatchet”, where his strong, octave-spanning vocals got a real workout.
The feel-good “Well, You Can Do It Without Me” featured a particularly memorable guitar solo, while the entire band shone on the emotional “Now I’m Learning to Love the War” and “Everyman Needs a Companion”. Father John Misty wrapped up the 40-minute set with the classic rock-sounding “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” before coming back on stage for a one-song encore: a cover of The Flaming Lips’ “Do You Realize??”. Even with this new album and new name, you can’t deny Tillman’s roots in Fleet Foxes, but maybe that’s a good thing. And with his new role up front and center, he now has a platform to show off his awesome dance moves.