Thursday, September 26, 2013

Redwood Refugee: Father John Misty In Big Sur

19 SEPTEMBER, 2013
A veritable who's who of the weird turning pro have given of their time and talent over the years to help support the Henry Miller Library over the years, from Patti Smith to Marianne Faithfull to Yo La Tengo. Soft-shoeing his way on to that illustrious list is none other than Father John Misty, (Josh Tillman), who headlined Thursday night's benefit. After his appearance at Outsidelands San Francisco in 2012 sporting a "Legalize LSD Now' sweatshirt, it seemed preordained that Mr. Tillman would make his way down the coast and pop up among the redwoods. Taking some downtime after the Misty band summer tour, he's been plotting and scheming, allegedly hatching ideas for a TV show, as well as putting the framework together for a new LP.
Tanned, rested, and ready, the nattily attired Misty hit the stage, working through the core songs from Fear Fun: "Fun Times In Babylon", "I'm Writing A Novel", "Only Son Of The Ladiesman", and "Nancy From Now On", spiked with his own inimitable observations about relaxation: "Been here in Big Sur for a few weeks now: pretty fucking stressed out...", and the nature of art and beauty: "Nothing says fuck you to a sunset like an iPhone picture".
The second half turned out to be a workshop of new tunes, led off by an ode to a difficult young lady, that showcased some circa '65 Dylan venom. "I Love You, Honeybear" made an appearance, and while it missed the heft and grandeur of the band arrangement, the dense lyrics took center stage and the emotional impact was heightened. After some casual deliberation on those who 'Whoo!' at inappropriate moments during songs, Misty slid into "Hollywood Forever Sings", before heading back into the unknown, with a touching take on Dory Previn's "Lady With The Braid", and a throat shredding version of the new "Bored In The USA". Capping things off with a one-two punch, "Now I'm Learning To Love The War" gave way to a lengthy "Everyman Needs A Companion". For the obligatory call back, he rolled out yet another new song, which we'll provisionally call "The Atom Bomb And Me". On the what's next tip, Father John Misty heads out for a solo acoustic tour with comedian Kate Berlant opening, fitting in an October appearance back at Golden Gate Park for Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, and finishing up with an appearance at the Wiltern, LA in November.

Poet Anne Waldman was the perfect choice to set the tone for the evening, and lend her own special touch of gravitas. Accompanied by Ambrose Bye, she brought her work to life vividly, illustrating its innate musicality, and in pieces like "Gaza", "Did Not Serve", and "G Spot", managed to enlighten, outrage, seduce, and amuse...often at the same time.
Magnus, from the Henry Miller Library, takes his traditional bow...

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