Joshua Tillman is dead, and Father John Misty killed him.
I knew after first listening through I Love You, Honeybear, that Tillman’s progression into becoming an icon had been fulfilled. Even just the obvious difference in track titles proved it by referring to the alternate personality in the third person; changing from “Misty’s Nightmares 1 & 2” on the debut to “The Night Josh Tillman Came To Our Apt.” on the sophomore album. Experiencing Misty live was a confirmation of that change as he thrust his hips, swung around with his microphone stand and held hands with the first few rows while singing about True Affection. However, what makes Misty stand out from other icons like Katy Perry or Lana Del Ray is his complete acknowledgement of the irony in his image, as made obvious by his demeanor and blatant lyrics. He is admittedly enrapturing; grasping and holding on to the crowd’s attention for the entire evening.
Asheville seemed both prepared and unprepared for the experience presented by Misty. One instance being that someone thought to bring extra large silk underwear to the show, which they tossed up on stage halfway through the set. Amused, Misty picked them up and confessed he would make a cape out of them and then call himself “Captain Pussy.” He ended up using them as a pocket square until that promise could be fulfilled. On the other hand, when Misty paused for a ‘question and answer (or comment)’ segment, the only one with a real question asked him “Why do you think the German pilot crashed the plane?” After a thoughtful smirk, Misty announced, “Ok… Well, That ends the question and answer portion of this show. Thank you, Asheville.”
As he approached his last song (before the encore, of course), Misty playfully cried, “No, Uncle Jared, Don’t leave us yet,” as a reply to the crowd’s resistant whines in a refusal to let him go. He went on into a mimicking tangent, adopting one of his various accents to declare “I paid for some sarcastic balls to some weird pantomiming!” So while he finished his set with “Holy Shit,” there was obviously an encore in order. Misty himself pointed out the cliché expectation as he walked back on stage, joking about how he just conspicuously was skipping over some of his biggest hits the whole night. “Dude! I can’t believe he’s not going to play Bored In The USA, ugh!” Misty said, pretending as though there was one guy in the crowd who maybe happens to be at his first concert. “I’m ruining it for him right now,” he acknowledged.
Misty delved into “Bored In the USA” to close out the evening, during which he playfully commanded the lighting tech to move to the spotlight to Kyle on the keyboard and then back to him as he so pleased. He went on to perform a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “I’m Your Man” as well (accompanied by a key-tar), and then his own “Everyman Needs A Companion” before stepping off The Orange Peel’s stage for the last time.
Opening for Father John Misty was King Tuff, who has a sarcastic charisma all his own, comprised of a grungy appearance and ‘fuck you’ attitude but balanced by a similarly playful nature and light-hearted jokes. Their opening set hit the highlights, “Bad Thing,” “Eyes of the Muse,” and “Black Moon Spell,” just to name a few. A stand out was when King Tuff called out his bassist Magic Jake to hear him whistle. Apparently, a few band members from Jake’s previous band were in the crowd, so they dedicated the next song to them – a song which included an entire verse of Jake’s whistling, which was damn good. I knew walking into The Orange Peel that I was a King Tuff fan, in love with their surf-rock lo-fi aesthetic, but left feeling that appreciation rekindled. They are definitely ones to watch this year, and not to mention they have a split vinyl coming out with Ty Segall in a week or so.
Father John Misty will be on tour with King Tuff until June, and the shows are selling out. He’ll also be making some festival appearances including Coachella, Hangout and Sasquatch!
Check out the full tour date listing here.