By Emily Herman
Arts & Entertainment Editor
Father John Misty brought his signature breed of eccentric yet poignant folk-rock to Rams Head Live! on Monday, expressing himself through excruciating lyrics and ecstatic physical movements.
Misty, actually Joshua Tillman from Rockville, Md. and formerly the drummer for chamber-folk band Fleet Foxes, performed tracks off February’s I Love You, Honeybear and 2012’s Fear Fun under different shades of colorful mood lighting and smoke.
The show felt simultaneously choreographed and off-the-cuff. Perhaps the perceived spontaneity of Misty’s performance stemmed from his brutal honesty and self-awareness, both in his lyrics and in his stage banter.
His versatile tenor voice shined on stripped down tracks like “Holy S**t” and “I Went To The Store One Day” and was accessible and pleasing on his more popular tracks, “Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)” and “Nancy From Now On.”
However his allure came mostly from his screwball yet deadpan antics.
He set the sarcastic and playful tone for the show right off the bat, opening with his most recent album’s title track, “I Love You, Honeybear,” sauntering and gyrating across the stage to the lilt of the song, and ending with the first of two jumps off the drum set that evening.
Misty also drew laughs and cheers with the movements paired with his lyrics. He did a couple can-can kicks following the line “We could do ayahuasca / baby, if I wasn’t holding all these drinks” in “I’m Writing A Novel,” and he drew giggles with the hand motions corresponding to each word of “The Night Josh Tillman Came To Our Apt.”
He also used his performances to mock aspects of popular culture and people he has had the displeasure of spending time with. In the aforementioned song, Misty drew noticeable crowd approval and participation with the lines “She says like literally music is the air she breathes, / and the malaprops make me wanna f*****g scream. / I wonder if she even knows what that word means. / Well it’s literally not that.” Just earlier in the set, he jokingly dedicated “When You’re Smiling and Astride Me” to fans who may have connected by listing Father John Misty in their musical preferences on their OKCupid profiles.
When fans started yelling requests, he quipped by telling them to just look up the song on the internet, “nerd,” before returning to his set list. At one point, he grabbed a phone from an audience member videotaping the performance and danced around while holding the phone uncomfortably close to his face.
The concert drew a crowd mixed in age but similar in look — there were a fair number of bearded white dudes in attendance, mirroring Misty’s artsy aesthetic with less finesse. In a friendly Q&A session before his encore, Misty hilariously addressed the minimal diversity in his fanbase by stating what he plans to do to get more black fans.
“Management and I are circling the wagon around this issue,” Misty said. “I think the man bun’s going to be the first thing to go.”
Misty then called on a black woman who let him know that her mom is also a huge fan, before accepting a scrunchie from a fan by the front of the stage.
“Just to recap…moms love me, I have a multicultural fan base, and as long as I have a scrunchie, the man bun’s okay,” he said.