Review by Aaron Beyt
Either a carefully crafted cult of personality or an accurate reflection of who the man is, Father John Misty, aka J. Tillman, has a bit of a reputation. After quitting drumming for the biggest folk band of the last decade, Fleet Foxes, Tillman has reinvented himself. He split from Seattle and the trademark Fleet Foxes Appalachian beard.
Freshly shorn, the reborn Father John Misty took off in a van packed full of controlled substances for Los Angeles. Misty’s debut album, Fear Fun, sounds exactly like the type of album a guy who just did a complete 180 would sound like. With lyrics about taking too much peyote from a Canadian shaman or trying to “smoke everything in sight,” the album is a beautiful, self-deprecating ode to excess and overindulgence.
So with sun burnt ACL festival goers trickling in to Austin’s Sixth Street the Parish, I found myself figuring out who the hell was the band on stage opening for Misty. If Misty was attempting to distance himself from his Fleet Foxes past, selecting Dry the River as an opening act didn’t do him any favors. However, I’m not complaining. Dry the River is an excellent London-based Fleet Foxes equivalent and, I am sure, the pitch perfect harmonies reminded Misty’s fans of his former band and how much Misty had given up to follow this new project.
Misty took the stage appropriately late and was, true to form, visibly intoxicated. I never did get a chance to catch the Fleet Foxes live, but I am amazed they were able to keep Misty behind the drums for an entire set. He sways – dances, struts – whatever, a lot. And that’s balancing a drink most of the time. But that’s not to say Misty’s evidently loosened mood is a bad thing – the album is about, or at least very much fueled, partaking a little too much. Misty was playing to a crowd who had just finished hours in Zilker Park probably taking a few controlled substances themselves, so Misty can be forgiven for a rather long diatribe midway through the set about his affinity for bikini-themed restaurants, among other topics.
By the third number, and arguably best track on the album, “Nancy From Now On,” Misty had gotten it together. His voice never suffered and the two-hundred or so in attendance had nothing to complain about. Most present, like me, are rabid Misty fans and if there were any gaps in Misty’s performance, we were happy to oblige filling in for our wiry idol.
See below for the NSFW doodled set list I was fortunate enough to grab.