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CHBP Review Day 1: Father John Misty Converted Seattle

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The Capitol Hill Block Party just started with a dose of magic and beauty courtesy of Father John Misty. Frontman Josh Tillman is equal parts Morrison and Little Richard on stage with his hip sway, his tambourine, his heartbreak wrapped in humor, and his band supporting him. When lead guitarist Benji lays into his instrument it is rock and roll that you’re dancing to. Other times it’s more country — every song is about the words, the beautiful sentences in the sad and lovely songs.

There’s a lot of storytelling going on with FJM songs. Funny lines about the tragic cost of making records, how much oil it takes, these words remind us that the songwriter is clever. It’s hard not to smile at lyrics like “when it’s my time to go I’ll leave behind things that won’t decompose.”

Tillman is great on stage. “Do you see how captivating my in-between song banter is,” he asked to the crowd. He’s actually pretty smooth up there, making it real by telling us that he’s probably washed the dirty dishes of everyone in the crowd at some time in the past. This first show of the festival is a homecoming for FJM, and it’s one that is full of whimsy and strength. Their music is a mishmash of lots of American traditions, as much Cake as Doors; what they do is moving, and those among us at the CHBP witnessed the high placement of the bar for what comes next.