Review: Father John Misty @ Neumos 9/21

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Father John Misty, All Photos by Amber Zbitnoff

Some musicians cause music addicts in our grey city to completely lose their shit. While I’m not sold that Father John Misty actually likes Seattle, it’s with absolute certainty that I say Seattle loves him. The proof’s in the pudding (or more likely, whiskey)- the guy’s managed to sell out two shows at Neumos within 4 months of each other. That’s kind of a big deal, right? Right. Friday’s show had all that has become sort of ‘standard’ at a FJM show- the dancing, a set containing most of the songs from Fear Fun, drinking on stage, and of course the hilarious banter.

After seeing him four times over the past four months and reading a few too many reviews of his shows across the country, it doesn’t seem right to talk about his shimmies or stage demeanor. Sure. His persona and quirks are part of what makes his live show one that you seriously NEED to witness. But really, He’s so much more than a series of quips and a pair of hips. It’s of course his music and the conviction with which he sings it and his band plays his materials that really makes it so an entire city can’t get enough of him and his band.

“Full of pizza and conviction,” Misty opened with the song closed his last romp at Neumos. ‘Funtimes in Babylon’ was a surprising choice, considering it’s not exactly the sort of song that would amp up a crowd. However, following Jenny O.’s set (a review can by Culturemob writer Tom Mohrman can be found here), it completely made sense. It’s a rather wandering tune, but sets a crowd up for Misty’s brand of vintage rock and roll. Throughout the rest of the set, FJM took us all on a jaunt through Fear Fun, playing “I’m Writing a Novel,” Misty’s Nightmares 1 & 2″,” and of course  “Only Son of a Lady’s Man.” On the record, just about every song is laden with metaphors about the industry, and while Misty may come off as disenchanted in his wordplay, onstage it’s a different story.

While the machine of making music may not be FJM’s favorite thing, being on stage seems to be. He comes alive behind a microphone, armed with a tambourine, as he easily serenades the packed venue. The show that Misty and his band put on Friday night outdid Fear Fun- a feat most artists never achieve. His vocals seem richer, and the instrumentation between vocals is an unexpected extension that creates more anticipation for his melodies. Something that really mixed up his set was his usage of covers, including ‘Do You Realize??’ by The Flaming Lips. The Flaming Lips isn’t a band a lot of bands have the balls to cover, especially this song, but for Father John and his band, it not only made sense, but was a beautiful close to the evening. It came off as a touching, unexpected moment, and was probably the most intimate I’ve heard Misty sound.

The power and intensity of Misty’s vocals is perfectly partnered by his bassist, which honestly at times was as captivating to watch and take note of as the frontman himself. Maybe it’s the hair, or the fact he sort of resembles Kurt Cobain, but I’d like to think it’s the way he darted around the stage and was more animated than I’d ever expected from a bass player that had all eyes and ears on him. He’s a great compliment to their live show, and one I’m interested in hearing more from.

Father John is an musicians that Seattle and its journalists get excited about for a multitude of reasons, but mostly it’s because we appreciate that he’s bringing back rock and roll in a lot of our minds, and making music that sounds different and more thoughtful than a lot of what’s spinning around record stores. His live show is something that I just cannot get over, and the way his music made the crowd come alive while he sang ‘Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings’ makes me believe I’m not the only one. He shook up Seattle. It’s rare to walk out of a show and be greeted by so many smiling people, but that’s the Misty Live Effect. His live show makes you feel like you’ve been doing lines of serotonin in a grimy bathroom stall, with vibrating walls and a passed out super model laying next to the sink. He’s doing everything right, and I can’t wait to see him again already.

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