by Rose Blanton
Good Friday at The Vic was filled with 70’s folk rock, insightful social commentary and many devoted fans. Joshua Tillman took the stage as Father John Misty. While the pseudonym is a joke, (Tillman, former drummer of Fleet Foxes comes from a feverously religious family and is a self-proclaimed atheist) we were definitely having a religious experience. One of my favorite attributes of Tillman is his unforgiving humor, between “Nothing Good Ever Happens At The Goddamn Thirsty Crow” and “This Is Sally Hatchet”, Tillman sang parts of the Torah, which was immediately followed by a joke that Christ took 34 years to rise from the dead – Tillman is 34 years old.
Tillman may not be the Son of God, but he is definitely responsible for a revival. He has put the Laurel Canyon sound back into the mainstream. (For those of you who don’t know, “The Laurel Canyon” sound was created by bands like Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and people like Frank Zappa and Joni Mitchell.) I’m enamored with his ability to intelligently comment on our society and put that prose to folky, 70’s rock. He makes a statement not only sonically, but also visually. He had a neon sign hanging that read “No Photography” inside a heart. He knows the majority of the crowd is going to hold up their phones and snap pixelated pieces of crap and post them on their various mediums of narcissism. Hopefully though, he’s probing some of you to think, “Huh, maybe I should just be in the moment”. While singing “Bored In The USA”, he actually snatched up someone’s device and flipped it so it was recording the crowd.
Tillman’s set was a pleasing combination of both albums, playing all the hits. The crowd joyously sang along. His stage presence is in likeness to that of a cult leader. If he handed out the Kool-Aid, I think we all would have gulped it down. His re-orchestration of his own songs shows his constant evolution as a musician. Even within two albums he has gone from folk to soul. I deeply appreciate everything Tillman has put out as a solo artist.
He ended the evening with Leonard Cohen’s “I’m Your Man” and “Everyman Needs A Companion”. The two songs paired nicely, like cheese and wine. I enjoy Tillman for his snarky, witty view of humanity, but even if you don’t have the insight that he does, the man can write a melody.