A night of solo acoustic showmanship with Father John Misty at Union Transfer

Father John Misty | Photo by Noah Silvestry | All photos by Noah Silvestry |

Father John Misty, as J Tillman calls himself, is not a person. He’s a persona, a mask, an act – and I love it. That said, Father John Misty with a band behind him is an entirely different story from Father John Misty solo: without a band, you’re getting introspection, sincerity and a guy that’s a whole lot more of Josh Tillman than his normal guise. His new work is beautifully cynical in a justified way; it blatantly criticizes everything he detests in a way unseen in his previous work.

His set began with “I’m Writing a Novel”, one of the more popular tunes off of last year’s Fear Fun. His guitar playing was full of energy and left me questioning if he really needed a backing band in the first place. The rather vocal crowd engaged him on the next song, “Only Son of the Ladiesman”, imploring him to sing “I’m a Phillies fan” rather than a “Dodgers fan”, to which Tillman responded, “I don’t give a fuck about baseball”. He moved on to “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” which, other than Tillman’s vocal embellishments, was basically unremarkable. What was remarkable, however, was a new song titled “Chateau Lobby #9.” Verse by verse, it exemplified Tillman’s distaste for various types of people.

Seldom was Tillman 100% serious during this acoustic evening – he brought out a giant iPhone screen to perform his new songs behind, since “I understand this is how you enjoy watching new music.” But on his cover of Dory Previn’s “Lady With the Braid”, one could sense the reverence he held for this song through his steadfast vocals and uncompromising ballad guitar strumming. Moving from genuine to beautifully ironic, fans then appreciated a new track, “Bored in the USA”. Tillman’s falsetto shone during his 3 encores, most notably on “O I Long to Feel Your Arms Around Me”, after which he gave the audience a heartfelt thank-you and left the stage.

Opening for Father John Misty in an almost surprisingly apt fashion was comedian Kate Berlant, whose stream-of-consciousness humor was welcomed with effusive cathartic laughter.
To be quite honest, I still prefer Father John Misty “the act”; with a band behind him, Tillman becomes much more of a showman. That is not to say, however, that Father John Misty solo isn’t something to which I owe a great deal of high regard. The fact that I was getting a different Tillman made it worthwhile in and of itself.

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Father John Misty extends tour (playing Union Transfer 10/22)

Photo by Noah Silvestry |

Ex-Fleet Foxes drummer Josh Tillman, otherwise known by his stage moniker, Father John Misty, played Union Transfer earlier this month. Now he’s announced that he’ll be extending his tour and will once again pay a visit to Union Transfer this fall. The show is on October 22nd, and comedian Kate Berlant will be supporting. Tickets go on sale tomorrow, Friday, June 28th, at noon. The latest Father John Misty release, Fear Fun, is out now via Sub Pop. Find more info on his UT show here, and watch him get all his hair cut off in the video for his track “Nancy From Now On,” below.


The Week So Far: 11 must-read stories on The Key (incl. Steve Gunn Trio, W.C. Lindsay, Disclosure and more)

Father John Misty | Photo by Noah Silvestry |
Father John Misty | Photo by Noah Silvestry |

Relive the weekend’s live music with reviews and photos of The National, Father John Misty, Devendra Banhart, The Bailey Hounds and Of Monsters and Men [link]

The Steve Gunn Trio recorded a Key Studio Session while on tour with Kurt Vile [link]

War on Drugs bassist and Nightlands frontman Dave Hartley returns to The Top of The Key with a look at basketball nicknames [link]

New Jersey’s Aspiga premiered a new song called “Direction” from an upcoming 7″ split [link]

Take an in-depth look at Break It Up‘s debut self-titled LP, featured this week on Unlocked [link]

Stream the exclusive premiere of W.C. Lindsay‘s super fun Tree EP [link]

WXPN announced the daily line-up for this summer’s XPoNential Music Festival [link]

We have a Gotta Hear Song from Disclosure and a Gotta Watch Video of Steve Martin and Edie Brickell this week [link and link]

PhilaMOCA announced their second annual ERASERHOOD FOREVER celebration of David Lynch and the venue’s Callowhill neighborhood [link]

Last Good Tooth teamed up with Folkadelphia for this week’s live session [link]

Sigur Ros, Kate Nash and Neko Case announced Philly shows for the fall


Father John Misty’s trippy showmanship shines at Union Transfer (photos, review)

Photo by Noah Silvestry |

As the digital world slowly overtakes the physical, things like vinyl and CDs are becoming extinct as fewer and fewer people buy physical copies of their music. A long time ago, I decided that I just couldn’t go along with this, that I had to buy physical copies of all the music I owned. But as the years goes by I find myself buying less physical records, and more mp3s.

One of the last records I bought was Father John Misty’s Fear Fun. This is a record worth buying. Not only is it filled with the amazing tongue-in-cheek folk-rock of Father John Misty (aka Josh Tillman, aka J. Tillman) but it also comes in a beautiful package. The album cover is a work of art, there are interesting quotes inside the case, and the liner notes are a giant trippy story written by Tillman himself. In the case of Fear Fun, having the physical album serves to shape an entirely different experience from the recorded music alone. And that’s exactly how a Father John Misty concert works as well.

As Union Transfer slowly filled up for the first show on a new tour for Fear Fun, Pure Bathing Culture squeezed onto center stage to play its own brand of dream-pop. After beginning to a lukewarm audience, Pure Bathing Culture soon gathered their attention and received big applause as they left the stage. But that’s when the real show started. Continue reading →


Saturday’s Concert Picks: The Bailey Hounds at Laurel Hill Cemetery, Father John Misty at Union Transfer, Oh Bree at The Fire


Hot off the release of their new EP, All The Blood in the World, local roots-rock quartet, The Bailey Hounds, will be playing a show this Saturday at Laurel Hill Cemetery. The new EP is streaming (see the link below), and available for purchase, at their Bandcamp page. The Bailey Hounds will be back in Philly later on in the summer for release party show at Johnny Brenda’s on July 13th. Tickets and information for their Laurel Hill Cemetery show can be found here.

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Father John Misty releases video for “Funtimes in Babylon,” perfume called “Innocence, by Misty” (playing Union Transfer on 6/8)

father john misty

Father John Misty put things quite bluntly in a comment for his new video of “Funtimes in Babylon” off of last year’s stellar Fear Fun:

Music videos don’t need blurbs. It’s like putting a brief summary before a Garfield comic strip. Also when did everyone start calling them ‘clips’? A ‘clip’ is an excerpt of a whole, I thought. Whoever post’s this, don’t spoil the ending in your blurb, which will probably read like this: “Seattle based folk beardo Father John Murphy mopes around a deserted, apocalyptic landscape (and shows off some of those infamous dance moves) in this Josh Tillman directed clip for ‘Funtimes In Babylon’.

Keeping the curveballs coming, the Seattle / L.A. musician has announced the release of perfume called “Innocence, by Misty” in conjunction with SANAE Intoxicants (the same company that released Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s line earlier this year).  According to the company, Tillman’s scent “has pure botanical fragrances of Sweet Orange Oil, Tunisian Neroli, Mimosa Absolute, Violet Absolute, Jasmine Grand, Bourbon Vanilla, and Linden Blossom.”

Watch both the “Funtimes in Babylon” video and a promo for the fragrance below.  Father John Misty will headline Union Transfer on Saturday, June 8th; tickets and information can be found here.


My Morning Download: “Now I’m Learning To Love The War” by Father John Misty (from a limited time only collection of World Cafe downloads)

fatherjohn Today’s free World Cafe download, “Now I’m Learning To Love The War,” comes from singer-songwriter Josh Tillman, AKA Father John Misty. He visited the World Cafe with David Dye last November; you can listen to the session here. Download the song below. This month (and this month only) World Cafe is offering free downloads of performances from bands including Calexico, Lord Huron, the Afghan Whigs, Alt-J, John Fullbright, Freelance Whales, Stars, Nick Waterhouse, Allen Stone, The Kopecky Family Band and others. Download the entire collection, while they last until March 1st, here.

Support for My Morning Download, from Flying Fish Brewing Company

Just Announced: Father John Misty returns to Union Transfer on 6/8

Photo by Eric Ashleigh
Psych folk / rock bandleader Father John Misty has announced a new spring/summer tour, which will caravan him through Philadelphia on Saturday, June 8th for show at Union Transfer.  The charismatic former Fleet Foxes drummer (off-stage Josh Tillman) revived his solo work under the new persona last year, releasing the much-loved Fear Fun on Sub Pop and trading in his drumsticks for dance moves during live shows.  Check out a full recap of his October appearance at Union Transfer here; tickets and information for the 21+ show will be available over at the XPN Concert Calendar.  Below, watch Father John Misty perform “Misty’s Nightmares 1 & 2″ at WXPN’s Non-COMMvention from May 2012.


Dancing in the spotlight with Father John Misty (photos, recap, setlist, video)

As much as Josh Tillman took a roundabout way to get there, he fits nicely in the role of rock and roll frontman. Formerly the drummer for indie-folk sensations Fleet Foxes and a solo artist before that, Tillman brought his Father John Misty persona / band to Union Transfer last night for an electrifying, hour-long set, performing almost all of his debut LP Fear Fun, as well two well-received covers.

An immediate observation as Tillman and his four-piece backing band stepped to the stage – he had no instruments with him, short of a tambourine. His job tonight was to sing, to dance, to be the charismatic guy in the front of the pack. So he opened the set strutting and swaying to album opener “Fun Times in Babylon,” closed it twisting and writhing Iggy Pop / Michael Stipe style to the single “Holllywood Forever Cemetry SIngs.” Things got a bit dramatic on “Nancy from Now On,” when Tillman brought his microphone stand cracking down on his head during the lyric “I’ll be breaking things like Howard Hughes.” Later he cracked jokes about Instagram and smart phones  (“buy minerals from drug lords, do whatever it takes to get that device in my hand”), and remarked that it was a rimshot-heavy evening. But then there was the performance – occasionally ostentatious, but always expressive and impressive. Continue reading →