Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Play Misty For Me!

01 FEBRUARY, 2013
"I'm Writing A Novel" is not only the fourth track off of Father John Misty's Fear Fun, but a pretty solid assessment of where i'm headed at this point in my collected Misty musings. With this evening marking the end of the Fear Fun tour, the question mark of 'what next' lingered over the proceedings. Having freed himself from the shadow of the Fleet Foxes, and more than put to rest the hovering ghost of J. Tillman, would the Misty project continue, or that too shed aside? And how exactly does one follow up an indelible album like Fear Fun?
Having gotten to Soho early to meet an old friend for dinner, it happened to luckily coincide with soundcheck, which turned out to be a great way to start the evening, especially when the band worked through a new number. I walked out to the patio and peered through the doors at the band, transfixed. Even with stops and starts, the guts were there, and it was promising...It was more naked and personal writing-wise, and more full musically, with the band kicking in hard. My only hope was that it wasn't constrained to the sound check.

Kicking things off with the majestic, and by now, de riguer opener "Fun Times In Babylon", Tillman was loose and the band was tight, summoning keyboard and bass crescendos that trumped the studio version. Tillman's mock snarkiness and shady dance moves got the crowd howling, and at one point he broke to grab and kiss the hand of a girl filming, then apologized for fucking up her video. Having fun with the mores of modern performance frustrations such as cell phone cameras is something he's embraced with gusto, as opposed to the humorless signs and demands of his peers. He breaks again at the end, noting that "This is gonna be a good one", before the band slams into the grand finale.

The mystery song from the sound check resurfaced, bolstered by the full slam of the band, and it slotted gracefully into the show. Given a tasty intro by lead guitarist Benji, Tillman spins a tale of true love found vs. the times we live in, spiked with his idiosyncratic wordplay. His own line sums it up best: "Don't ever doubt this/my steadfast conviction." As usual, half the fun is watching bassist Jeff dashing around, pumping up the drummer with body language, then racing back to the mike for harmonies.

That wouldn't be the evening's only surprise, as he dropped in another new number, done alone acoustically towards the end of the set. The intro is priceless, with Tillman introducing it as a new song over acoustic strumming, before dispatching the notoriously talkative Soho audience with some less than tender words, then proceeding to uncork a quietly devastating, but ultimately uplifting tale.

The remainder of the set followed form, with a righteous "Every Man Needs A Companion" giving way to a take on "Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings" that was even more jacked up than usual, descending into chaos with Tillman flailing the mic stand around, and we on the side ducking swipes from Benji's guitar. Frightfully fun.
Closing the night on full simmer, the band fell back on Canned Heat's "On The Road Again", and brought the evening, and the tour, to a successful close. Tillman and the band will be returning to action with an appearance at Coachella.

Adam Green and Binki Shapiro opened up the night in style, laying down tracks from their debut album with a full band, and winning the crowd over in surprisingly quick order. They've recently come back from a European jaunt, including an ill-fated van burglary in Manchester. Adam Green is probably best known for teaming up with Kimya Dawson in the Moldy Peaches. Binki Shapiro, from Little Joy, plays the perfect foil to Green, and they plumb the depths in a post-modern Lee Hazelwood/Nancy Sinatra vein. Their sole self-titled, (and highly recommended), album provided grist for the mill, and the highlights were "Pleasantries", (below), "What's The Reward" with it's killer surf guitar break, a moving reading of "Nighttime Stopped Bleeding", and the Binki showcase "Don't Ask For More". All in all, a satisfying taster, and more than enough impetus to see them again.

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